Reacting to the news that the office of Tbilisi Pride have been ransacked and activists and journalists attacked, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“The violence against Tbilisi Pride organizers, activists and journalists was as lamentable as it was predictable. The Georgian authorities are responsible for failing to ensure their safety and their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Instead of planning for this turn of events and providing a robust response to violence, the government deployed inadequately small numbers of policemen who were only reacting to violent attacks, rather than providing an organized protection for LGBTI activists.
“The authorities have the nerve to put the responsibility for these homophobic attacks on Pride organizers, by urging them to cancel the event rather than offering protection. They also consistently fail in their duties by not properly investigating incidents of violence and bringing those suspected of responsibility to account.
“The authorities must put things right this time. They should publicly condemn attacks against LGBTI people and Pride organizers, making clear that such violence is a criminal offence and will not be tolerated. They must promptly investigate such attacks and prosecute those suspected to be responsible in fair trials. Another failure to address homophobic violence will only foster impunity and spread the dangerous message that such attacks will be tolerated, paving the way for further violence against LGBTI individuals, activists and organizations.”
Tbilisi Pride march was planned on 5 July 2021 but was cancelled after violent counter-protesters assembled in city centre. Members of a violent homophobic mob climbed onto the balcony of the office of Tbilisi Pride, tearing a rainbow flag apart and breaking the windows before ransacking the building. The staff members of Shame Movement, who were hosting the Tbilisi Pride organizers, were forced to evacuate. According to the media reports, police were present in small numbers and failed to intervene effectively. Dozens of journalists who were planning to cover the Pride and became witnesses were then themselves attacked by the homophobic mob.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that it had launched investigations into cases of “interference with journalist’s professional activities” (Article 154 of the country’s Criminal Code) and “violence” (Article 126). Simultaneously, the Ministry called on Tbilisi Pride organizers not to hold the March “in an open public space” because of the “scale” of the ongoing counter-rally.