In Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi, last weekend’s Pride Festival had to be cancelled as the venue was stormed by a violent mob of far right and anti-LGBTQIA+ groups.
According to the organisers of Tbilisi Pride Festival, 2,000 people broke through a police blockade and rushed on to the stage. The mobsters were seen burning rainbow flags, and included members from the Orthodox Christian Church and conservative TV brand Alt-Info.
Those setting up the festival were taken via shuttle buses to safe locations, and there were no reports of injuries. According to a statement made to Reuters by the Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Darakhvelidze: “The protesters managed to find… ways to enter the area of the event, but we were able to evacuate the Pride participants and organisers.
“Nobody was harmed during the incident and police are now taking measures to stabilise the situation.”
The organisers have since accused the authorities of actively colluding with the protestors to disrupt the festival, yet the government minister responded by noting how hard the event was to police, as it was held in an open area. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the police provided the organisers with protection guarantees for weeks prior to the event, with the Georgian president condemning the attack.
Video footage has since been circulating throughout social media, showing members of the police and the protesters herd into the festival area in a wild, aggressive manner.
In a statement, Tbilisi Pride said that: “Violent mobs surrounded Pride activists and volunteers, while the police, instead of dispersing them, compelled the activists to leave the area.”
The organisers continued by saying: “According to Tbilisi Pride, this is part of the homophobic pre-election campaign orchestrated by the ruling party, Georgian Dream, which is currently in power, Since March, they’ve been discussing the alleged dangers associated with so-called ‘LGBTQIA+ propaganda’ and emphasising the need to regulate LGBTQIA+ issues through legislation.”
Two individuals have since been arrested for ‘petty hooliganism’ and ‘disobedience’.
Tiffany Ibe is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram
Written by: Tim Hopkins