A Pride march in the country of Georgia was cancelled after right-wing groups stormed and ransacked the office of an LGBTQ+ rights organization in the capital of Tbilisi.
The march had been planned for Monday as part of a 5-day Pride celebration. Before it could begin, the office of Tbilisi Pride, the organization responsible for planning the march, was breached by counter-protestors who scaled the walls and entered the building.
Parts of the siege were captured on video and posted to Twitter. One video shows two counter-protestors climbing onto a balcony and removing rainbow flags before tossing them to the ground.
Alarming images from #Georgia! Extremist hooligans threaten today’s #LGBT #pride in Tblisi. @vvd calls on the authorities to protect participants and journalists! European leaders need to put pressure on Georgia to immediately safeguard freedom and equal rights. @TbilisiPride🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/lqKbGPKn9F
— Ruben Brekelmans (@rubenbrekelmans) July 5, 2021
Other videos purportedly show violence committed against journalists covering the counter-protests. One image shows a man with a bloodied nose sitting in what appears to be the back of an ambulance. Another shows a shirtless man being led down the street in a headlock by men who are identified in the post as conservative priests.
— Tbilisi Pride (@TbilisiPride) July 5, 2021
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has reported that nearly 50 journalists were attacked covering the event.
In response to the violence, Reuters reports that the country’s interior minister has called on the LGBTQ+ rights group to suspend the march amid fears of further unrest. Rights organizations have condemned this call, saying that in suspending the march, the government is doing little to ensure rights of assembly, and to hold the perpetrators of violence responsible for their actions.
“War was declared against civil society and democratic values,” Tbilisi Pride posted on Twitter in the wake of Monday’s events. “The actions of the government have clearly [shown] that they don’t want to perform [their] direct duty. The inaction of the executive power has put the health and lives of Georgian citizens in real danger.”
This is not the first time violence has erupted in Georgia over LGBTQ+ demonstrations. A 2013 rally for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia was interrupted by violent counter-protests led by extremist groups and church leaders.