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Video: Georgian gay rights activists attacked by mob on International Day Against Homophobia

On Friday, chaotic clashes broke out in Georgia as an angry mob — comprised mainly of young men but also including robed priests and some women — descended on a gay rights rally commemorating International Day Against Homophobia. A day earlier, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church had demanded that authorities stop the rally, calling ...

VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images
VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, chaotic clashes broke out in Georgia as an angry mob — comprised mainly of young men but also including robed priests and some women — descended on a gay rights rally commemorating International Day Against Homophobia. A day earlier, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church had demanded that authorities stop the rally, calling it a "violation of the majority’s right." 

According to EurasiaNet, the mob, which numbered in the thousands, shouted violent slogans while chasing activists away from downtown Tbilisi. Clamors of "Kill them! Tear them to pieces!" and "Where are they? Don’t leave them alive!" rang out as police herded activists into municipal buses and away from the area. As the activists left, protesters pelted the buses with stones and overpowered policemen trying to contain the scene. Seventeen people have reportedly been injured in the violence.  

The video footage is quite dramatic:

 

Members of the Georgian government have spoken out against the attacks. UNM parliamentarian Gigi Tsereteli dismissed today’s events as "anarchy" and added that "this is not the state we were building," while Justice Minister Tea Tsulukuani affirmed that "both groups have the right to hold peaceful rallies. Violence is unacceptable." While many have condemned the violence, comments later came from several ruling Georgia Dream party members that criticized the LGBT activists for raising tensions. 

On May 15, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili declared that sexual minorities "have the same rights as any other social groups" in Georgia and that society will "gradually get used to it." Judging from today’s episode, Georgian society still has a ways to go.

(H/T: Arianne Swieca)  

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