May 17, The International Day Against Homophobia vs. The Georgian Church

On May 17, 1990 a decision was made to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Disease of the World Health Organization. The founders of the International Day Against Homophobia established the IDAHO Committee to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights works worldwide.

The main purpose of this day is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide. It gives an opportunity to engage with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society. This day is particularly popular in Europe and Latin America.

As of 2012, very few countries have passed legislation at the federal level that include full-fledged legal recognitions of LGBT couples such as marriage, adoption, inheritance, and insurance rights, despite the efforts of the May 17 movement.

Georgia decided to take part in this international event for the first time in 2013. The gay rights activists holding the rally were met by thousands of protestors opposing homosexuality, who broke through the police cordon and got very aggressive with the protestors. Behind such aggression was The Georgian Orthodox Church. Two days before this rally, Ilia II, the head of the Church, called for banning the gay rights rally, describing homosexuality as an “anomaly and disease”. The government though, was on the LGBT side, when the Prime-minister at the time stated that LGBT individuals “have the same rights as any other social groups” a day before the rally.

The violence that took place at this rally five years ago was widely condemned by international and local organizations. See the pictures from the 2013 protest below.

With the recent protests going on (See “Bassiani Nightclub Raid in Tbilisi and the Youth Protest ‘Dance for Our Freedom‘” and “Homophobic and Hateful Crowd Opposing the ‘Dance for Our Freedom’ Youth Protest”) we were hoping that today’s event would not get violent.

But instead the LGBT community cancelled their event in Tbilisi since they were scared of backlash. Especially that the Georgian Orthodox Church decided to hold an event simultaneously on the 17th. They call it the “Day of Family Sanctity” (Geo: ოჯახის სიწმინდის დღე). This day was created to protest LGBT freedom, calling the gay lifestyle a sin and unaccaptable. As I’m writing this, the church is celebrating this new holiday. In the Kashveti Church near the Parliament building hundreds of families are gathering to get blessed, married, baptized, or more. The Kashveti Church is the main one for this event, since it’s the closest to where protests are usually held in the capital – near the Parliament on the Freedom Square. That’s where the LGBT community was supposed to gather.

The Church is planning on celebrating this holiday in every church in the capital, after which they expect for people from different regions to arrive, then are are planning on walking to the biggest church in Tbilisi, The Sameba Church (Eng: The Trinity Church).

But this is not it. To protest the LGBT rally this year, the Fascist group was also planning to gather near the Rustaveli Metro. This is the same group that showed up at the “Dance for Our Freedom” protest, cursing (see the links below the pictures above). They consider the LGBT community “dirty” and their plan was to break through the police and beat up everyone that showed up at the rally, similar to what they did in 2013.

Thankfully the leader (not the head of the group) of the Fascist gathering and one more person were arrested at the Rustaveli metro this morning. They said they were gathering at the Metro to join the church event. At the interrogation they said there were so few of them due to repression in this country. You can see a picture from the arrest below.

So it’s quite understandable why the LGBT community decided to cancel their event. History was bound to repeat itself, but this time it could have been worse. The Fascists and the Church were already enraged after the weekend of protests, and were expected to get very aggressive today.

On top of everything else, the latest news report that there’s a knight on Rustaveli. Yes, you read that right. A knight. We’re not sure what he’s protecting, but he’s apparently riding the horse around the streets of the capital. See below.

Obviously I couldn’t help myself and turned this into a meme. Click here to see.

There were numerous reports of people saying they felt accomplished that the LGBT community didn’t have their rally today. The head of the fascist group, who is also in custody, said that was their only goal for today.

But jokes on them. There will be a LGBT rally at 17:00 today. I will not be disclosing the location for their safety. Police officers are already there, the streets have been closed off.

They can’t stop us from bringing equality and freedom to our country. We are the future of this country, and we will make it brighter.

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