HRHT responds to the statement of “Tbilisi Pride” yesterday and fully joins to the organization’s demands to the government.

This year, “Tbilisi Pride” refuses to hold a “March of Dignity” within the Pride Week in order to avoid tensions and polarization in the process of European integration. The Georgian queer community and their supporters are refusing to exercise their constitutional right to assemble, because the mobilization of aggressive, homophobic groups poses a potential threat to them again, as it did last year.

Last year, on July 5, the state failed to protect the organizers of the “March of Dignity”, queer community, activists and journalists. Against the background of the preliminary organization of the violent groups, the Prime Minister of Georgia said that he considered it inappropriate to hold a “March of Dignity”, and afterwards, stressed that the majority in the country was against the event and felt obliged to obey the will of the people.

This year’s Pride Week consists of closed events. Nonetheless, violent, pro-Russian groups continue to openly declare that they will obstruct the festival organizers and disrupt their events. It is critically important for the state to show political will, arrest both last year and this year’s organizers of the violence, and protect the festival. It is disturbing that peaceful groups have been forced to relinquish their rights to avoid confrontation, while violent groups continue threats with open, aggressive texts.

A special problem is still the discrediting calls of high-ranking government officials towards the organizers, activists and supporters of “Tbilisi Pride”. The government is obliged to protect activists and human rights defenders. One of the important components of this protection is the public support of these groups. It is essential that high-ranking government officials condemn all crimes against human rights defenders and activists and, through their public calls, promote human rights activities, and in particular the protection of minority rights.