Prominent far-right campaigner Guram Palavandishvili and his son were among seven people arrested during an anti-queer demonstration in Tbilisi on Monday.
The protest outside the EU Delegation to Georgia’s office was organised by Palavandishvili’s Children’s Rights Society and NGO Morality. The groups were protesting against the impending Pride events.
Demonstrators carried banners with insulting and homophobic texts including: ‘All shameful LGBT ambassadors should be expelled from Georgia’, and ‘Homosexuality is a pathology, depravity, and filth’.
Protesters attempted to burn the EU flag, after which police officers began making arrests.
The Interior Ministry told OC Media that the protesters had been arrested for disobeying police and petty hooliganism.
This year, Tbilisi Pride does not plan to hold a public march, instead hosting several private events from 28 June to 2 July.
Homophobic groups have threatened to disrupt a Pride festival scheduled for 2 July.
Responding to the threat, Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Darakhvelidze said that the state would protect the right of assembly and expression guaranteed by law and prevent violence if it took place.
Last year, on 5 July 2021, what was to be Georgia’s first Pride march turned into a hunt for activists and journalists, who were beaten in the streets with police making only limited events to protect them. The authorities had beforehand insisted they would not protect the march.
Anti-Pride protesters also stormed the offices of Tbilisi Pride and the Shame Movement, a liberal activist group. Over 50 journalists attempting to cover the day’s events were injured.
[Read on OC Media: Georgia’s ongoing epidemic of homophobic street violence]