Right-wing thugs were seen ripping and burning rainbow flags at the Tbilisi Pride festival venue
The Tbilisi Pride festival in Georgia became a target of violent right-wing extremists on Saturday, forcing the event’s cancellation.
Reports indicate that hundreds of bigots overwhelmed the police and stormed the festival grounds, burning rainbow and trans flags just before the scheduled start of the event.
This act of violence led to the organisers being forced to cancel the Pride celebration, which was expected to attract around 3,000 participants. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Organisers allege collusion
In a statement, Tbilisi Pride claimed that the attack was a well-planned operation orchestrated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the right-wing, Russia-aligned group known as “Alt-info.”
The organisers stated that despite promises of protection, the police allowed the anti-LGBTQ group to freely access the festival area instead of dispersing them. They further criticised the authorities for forcing the organisers to leave the premises.
“After the Putinist violent radical groups attacked us, they were neither detained nor removed from the premises. Instead, they continued to party on the festival grounds, with champagne,” said Tbilisi Pride.
Condemnation: A History of Inadequate Protection
The violence and attacks on Tbilisi Pride were strongly condemned by the United Nations, which called on the authorities to denounce the incident, hold the responsible individuals accountable, and take decisive steps to improve the protection of the rights to peaceful assembly and expression for all, including LGBTQI+ persons.
This is not the first time Tbilisi Pride has faced such threats. In 2021, the event was also cancelled after a homophobic mob vandalised the office of Tbilisi Pride, tearing apart a rainbow flag, breaking windows, and ransacking the building.
Kristine Garina, President of the European Pride Organisers Association, criticised Georgia’s government for consistently failing to protect Tbilisi Pride over the years.
“Allowing far-right groups with links to Putin and Moscow to threaten a Pride event to the extent that it has to be cancelled is the very height of incompetence in public office and a complete failure to perform the most important function of government: to protect your people,” Garina said.
Challenges Faced by the LGBTQ Community
Although discrimination based on sexual orientation is legally prohibited in Georgia, the country remains conservative, with LGBTQ individuals experiencing stigma, discrimination, and violence.
Orthodox Christian leaders’ rhetoric contributes to the hostile environment. According to the 2021 International Social Survey Programme (ISSIP) study, 84% of the Georgian public believes that same-sex sexual relations are always wrong, perpetuating societal biases.
The violent attack on Tbilisi Pride highlights the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights in Georgia. The organisers’ allegations of collusion and the government’s failure to protect the event raise serious concerns about the safety and inclusivity of the LGBTQ community.