Rampage by rightwing groups in Georgia against planned Pride March

Rampage by rightwing groups in Georgia against planned Pride March
A journalist is assaulted by far-right protesters during counter-protests ahead of the planned Tbilisi Pride march on July 5.
By Neil Hauer in Yerevan July 5, 2021

The long-awaited Tbilisi Pride march in Georgia's capital on June 5 did not go as planned.

In fact, it didn't happen at all, after right-wing groups came out in force and, failing to find any LGBT activists, assaulted journalists instead - at least 42 at the time of writing -- who were later recalled by their editors as the sitaution span rapidly out of control. 

The day opened with far-right protesters - encouraged by the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC), the leading religious body of the faith the vast majority of Georgians follow - assaulting the march's organizers' office. Demonstrators scaled the facade of the building and reached the Tbilisi Pride office on the third floor, hurling down the rainbow flag found there in the dramatic video captured below by RFE/RL.

The violence spread further. One Polish tourist was taken to hospital after he was them that they were "obliged to use violence for the sake of homeland, the country, the sacred." Another, Reverend Shio Mujiri, the Incumbent of the Patriarchal Throne,

The Georgian government also actively encouraged the demonstraters.

Georgian PM Irakli Gharabishvili, on this rhetoric, calling the planned pride rally the work of 'radical opposition forces' led by Georgia's former ruling party, the United National Movement.

Journalists, meanwhile, became the primary target of the protesters as pro-LGBT activists stayed indoors. At least 42 were assaulted, some of which were captured in the photos by Interpress News agency below.

Police presence, in sharp contrast to previous years when small Pride marches have been held, was extremely thin. In the few videos in which police are present, they stand passively off to the side, doing nothing to interfere with mob violence. Police also did not halt the ransacking of Tbilisi Pride's office.

Tbilisi Pride organizer Giorgi Tabagari went one further, suggesting that the far-right mobs were actively aided by Georgian security services. Tabagari accused pro-LGBT activists of attempting to destroy Georgia's traditional values and family structures.