police and sodoma banner May 17

A counter-demonstrator on May 17. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The two opposing sides in Georgia’s gay rights debate are to hold demonstrations at the same spot in Tbilisi today. But Prime Minister Ivanishvili reassures the public that people will be able to express their views peacefully.

The first one is in support of the LGBT people who May 17 tried to hold a quiet 30 minute event near the old parliament to protest against homophobia, but were violently chased away by thousands of people encouraged by clerics from the Christian Orthodox Church.

The slogan of the protest 7 pm today at Deda Ena is ‘No to theocracy’, and organizers want to show their objection to not only what happened on May 17, but also the trend that has developed since, when many people have been beaten in the streets because they look different, even if they are not gay or involved in gay rights issues.

“On May 17 was the most aggressive and massive manifestation of religious fundamentalism in Georgia,” organizers write. “We demand to live in a state which is grounded on a constitution and where all are equal before the law. No to theocracy.”

The rally, which is supported by journalists, artists, actors, public figures and students, will include a photo exhibition in Deda Ena garden showing the violence of clerics and parishioners.

Video appeals featuring artists and well-known people have gone viral on the internet.




The other rally represents the other side of the debate, and is organized by National Front, which took part in the counter-rally against the gay rights activists on May 17.

It starts at 6 pm at the same place as the first rally is planned.

The National Front writes in a statement that the May 17 was a provocation and an attempt to impose unacceptable values on society; this is what caused a ‘strong reaction’ and resulted in what happened that day.

“With the help of grants from global economic clans, the pseudo-liberal wing tries to blame the May 17 events on Georgia’s Orthodox Church and clerics, which also contains elements of ideological violence against Georgian society,” the statement reads.

The National Front demands that the government introduces a new law which prohibits ‘propaganda’ for ‘LGBT values’.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on Friday told journalists he is sure today’s rallies will be conducted in peace. He said the Interior Ministry will take steps to ensure people’s safety.

“Yesterday, the Interior Minister told me about this and he is organizing security measures, and I think in this case everything will happen peacefully,” he said.

The prime minister said it that ‘unfortunately’ the police didn’t ideally defend the rights of minorities on May 17, even though it was the will of the new government for the rally to be peaceful and protect the rights of sexual minorities.

“The events of May 17 were shameful for our society,” he added.

On Saturday there is planned another rally at 3 pm at the Prosecutor’s Office to demand protection of the rule of law and once again protest against the violence.