DRI urges authorities to ensure security during Tbilisi Pride Week
In light of the experience of mass violence of July 5, 2021, when irresponsible statements by high-ranking political officials and criminal inaction of the police led to uncontrolled violence, the Democracy Research Institute calls on the authorities to immediately take preventive measures to ensure the safety of the participants in the Tbilisi Pride festival.
Violent far-right groups have announced the disruption of the final event of the Pride Week scheduled for July 8, 2023. Conservative Movement/Alt-Info leader Zura Makharadze named three main demands in the Realpolitika programme on July 7: 1) disruption of the Pride festival; 2) release of persons arrested relating to the July 5 case; and 3) adoption of a draft law against the "propaganda of depravity". Representatives of the radical force started collecting money in order to mobilize supporters in the regions of Georgia, however, according to Zura Makharadze, TBC Bank and Bank of Georgia blocked their accounts.
The intensification of the violent and homophobic rhetoric of the far-right leaders was already visible at the beginning of July. Most of their leaders made calls containing violence. The Secretary General of the Conservative Movement, Giorgi Kardava, in a video address, referred to the Pride Week as "propaganda of depravity and pathology" and called on supporters to prevent it. The leader of the Conservative Movement, Shota Martinenko, threatened to repeat the scenario of July 5, 2021: "No matter what resistance we may face, we must get there and stop this animality. If they still try to hold it, July 5 will even seem a pleasant day to them." According to Konstantine Morgoshia, "July 8 will be the final nail in the coffin placed on July 5."
Vato Shakarashvili, the leader of the far-right violent organization Georgia First called on the organizers of the Pride Week to cancel the event: "The Georgian people, not only once and not only by word, but by action, have proven that they will not allow the so-called Pride in our country and this position will never be revised!”  The leader of the far-right organization Georgian Mission, Ramaz Gagnidze, also called on supporters to mobilize and disrupt the Pride festival."We are waiting for you, men and women, at 12 o'clock, on July 8, at Vazha statue, to disrupt the LGBT parade on Lisi Lake! reads his Facebook post.
Aleksandre Palavandishvili also tried to stir up homophobic sentiments in the society by spreading misinformation. According to him, a "gay parade" was announced in Tbilisi. By drawing a parallel with July 5, 2021, he called on supporters to disrupt the event this year as well - "2 years have passed since the turning point of July 5, unity is still necessary. On July 8, at 12:00, we will gather at Vazha statue to prevent the gay festival."
Considering the practice of mass violence of July 5, 2021, the Democracy Research Institute calls on the authorities to:
  • end the political instrumentalization of homophobia and the indirect or direct support for violent groups
  • ensure the immediate identification of funders and organizers of the radical groups and implementation of legal measures against them
  • take emergency preventive measures to ensure the safety of the Pride festival
  • ensure immediate response to any incidents of potential violence against Pride organizers and participants
  • have effective and constant communication with the organizers of the Tbilisi Pride festival to prevent potential violence.