There is a prevailing opinion in the Abkhaz society that representatives of the queer community do not exist in the region. As a result, the majority of the LGBTQ+ community, fearing that they might be killed on the street because of their orientation, mainly hide their identity or move abroad to escape the social pressure and imminent threat of violence.
The Democracy Research Institute offers several stories of the representatives of the local LGBTQI+ community from Abkhazia:
Respondent No. 1, 23-year-old, Sokhumi
"I decided to reveal my orientation to my family because I was tired of lying to my loved ones. It is difficult to invent any kind of alternate reality. In addition, I am very worried about the issue of homophobia in Abkhazia. I believe that if people raise their voices and recognize us, it can have an impact on the general level of homophobia in the republic.
I went to St. Petersburg, but my father and older brothers brought me back to Sokhumi twice. My father took my passport away, but I managed to run away, after which I started receiving unpleasant messages from my loved ones, threats. One of my brothers wrote to me: "You’d better die." After all this, I no longer felt safe in St. Petersburg. For several months now, my boyfriend and I have been living in another country. Despite all this, I don't regret revealing my orientation. I feel better because I have told my family the truth about myself.''
Respondent No. 2, 27-year-old, Gagra
"My mother threw me out of the house when she found out that I was in a relationship with boys. I didn't tell her, one of my friends told her. I still don't know who he was, but I broke up with almost everyone I was friends with at that time. I left for Sochi. My mother, of course, was worried about me, she cried and asked me to refuse my orientation and only after that to return home. As time passed, my mother's attitude changed. Now I live with a boy and my mother knows about him. They have a good relationship."
Respondent No. 3, 25-year-old, Sokhumi
"The first person I told that I loved a girl was my husband. For three years I had been in love with my best friend. I naively assumed it would change. Now I am happy with her, we have been together for more than 7 years. My relationship with my mother was ruined, she did not support me, compared me to a drug addict, insulted the person I loved. A year later I told my father. He didn't like my orientation either, but he accepted me anyway. He helps me and my partner. I will fight for my happiness."
The Democracy Research Institute supports the idea of equality. Every person, whether in the Tbilisi-controlled territory or in Abkhazia, should be provided with a decent and violence-free environment.