Pride in Tbilisi canceled after organizers’ office smashed up
The Pride has been canceled in Tbilisi in Georgia after anti-LGBTQ+ members smashed up the organizers’ office. The country where And Then We Danced was set has never seen anything like it.
“And Then We Danced”, a Georgian-Swedish drama that was loved by the Cannes audience, with standing ovations for fifteen minutes, was hailed as the Georgian counterpart to Call Me by Your Name.
The drama, a Georgian-Swedish co-production, was shot in Tbilisi and directed by Levan Akin, a director with Georgian roots who lives and works in Sweden, about a gay ballet dancer in a heavily male-centric and conservative community, making it Georgia’s first LGBTQ+-themed film.
It has been strongly attacked in Georgia by the local Orthodox Church, as well as by ultra-conservative groups in the country, who have called it’s subject matter outrageous. And especially the fact that, according to the film, there are gay Georgian men.
Organizers of the LGBTQ+ Pride event in Georgia said on Monday they were “just trying to survive” after violent groups opposed to a march stormed and ransacked their office in the capital and attacked activists and journalists.
Activists began five days of Pride celebrations last week and had planned a “March for Dignity” on Monday in central Tbilisi, shrugging off criticism from the Orthodox Church and conservatives who said the event had no place in Georgia.
But the march plan was disrupted by counter-protesters before it could begin, forcing organizers to call it off. Video footage posted by LGBT+ activists showed protesters scaling their building to reach their balcony where they tore down rainbow flags and were seen entering the office of Tbilisi Pride.
Other footage showed a journalist with a bloodied mouth and nose and a man on a scooter driving at journalists in the street. Police said that more than 50 journalists had been targeted in the violence.
“No words can explain my emotions and thoughts right now. This is my working space, my home, my family today. Left alone in the face of gross violence,” LGBTQ+ activist Tamaz Sozashvili tweeted. Media also reported that a tourist had been stabbed because he was allegedly wearing an earring.
“We’re just trying to survive and to avoid the people that are wandering in the street,” Tabagari said, adding that he was “nearly killed” as a mob surrounded his car while he was leaving the United Nations building in central Tbilisi after a meeting.
Thousands of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building on Monday, after Church leaders urged supporters to “show the world that … Any attempt to degenerate our people is utterly unacceptable.”
However, another activist group said the government had failed to offer security to activists and journalists and was “responsible for today’s violence.” The Georgian Orthodox Church, which strongly opposes LGBTQ+ activists, had also called for a public prayer meeting against the Pride event.
While discrimination against sexual orientation is illegal in Georgia, the country — which lies between Eastern Europe and Western Asia — remains very conservative.
Georgia has witnessed a cultural clash between liberal forces and religious conservatives over the past decade as it has modernized and introduced progressive reforms, though it remains mostly conservative on social issues.