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Queer rights activists have presented a petition signed by almost 38,000 people worldwide to the Georgian government in support of two gay men, Levan Berianidze and Tornike Kusiani. The two were allegedly assaulted on homophobic grounds by strangers and then by police.
On 5 October the Equality Movement, a Georgian queer rights group, presented the petition to the Chancellery of the Georgian Government, demanding a ‘timely, impartial, and efficient investigation of the attacks by the perpetrators and by the police officers’.
The petition, published on the webpage of international rights group All Out, addresses the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Government of Georgia.
‘Georgian LGBT activists Levan Berianidze and Tornike Kusiani were attacked by a group of strangers in Batumi, Georgia. Police officers, instead of arresting their perpetrators, detained the men, kicking and dragging them to the police car. At the police station, they spewed homophobic slurs, demanded Tornike and Levan take off all their clothing, and continued treating them violently and aggressively. They have been charged with a fine for "hooliganism and civil disobedience’, the petition reads.
It calls on the Government to establish measures to fight homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in the police and introduce an efficient policy to monitor and prevent hate crimes committed by police officers.
Berianidze and Kusiani were arrested on 25 August after an altercation outside a nightclub in Batumi. After being taken to a police station in Batumi, the pair claim to have been physically and verbally assaulted by police.
The Interior Ministry say the pair were arrested for disobeying police.
Several supporters held a demonstration in solidarity in the evening in front of the Government Chancellery in Tbilisi.
On the following day a court fined the men ₾300 ($120) each for ‘hooliganism and disobeying police’. The petition calls on officials to overturn their convictions.
An investigation launched by the Prosecutor’s Office into alleged abuse of power by police is still underway.
[Read more about this story on OC Media: Queer rights activists ‘abused by police’ in Georgia]