***Breaking News update (24 July 2007): After all histeria and homophobia surrounding this event (see my comments below) which aimed at promoting Equality and Tolerance towards disadvantaged and minority groups, and which was, in fact, not "Gay Parade" at all, but rather broader event organised by Council of Europe in Georgia within their campaign "All Different - All Equal ", the event got cancelled by one of organisers and apparently will not go ahead. Very sad news, indeed...
Sounds too good to be true, isn’t it? I felt the same reading the news received via Kornelij Glas, in the first instance. Here is the story.
Rosbalt Russian news agency broke the news yesterday on upcoming Gay Parade in Tbilisi. I intentionally waited for some time (almost a day) before publishing this post, waiting for any confirmation from independent sources, other news or gay-related agencies or institutions. None so far…
News report was based on Georgian “Rustavi2 TV” report and suggested that there will be first-ever Gay Parade in Tbilisi on 29 July 2007. Based on TV report, Rosbalt stated that according to organisers of the Tbilisi parade, it will differ from similar Gay Pride events in other countries, without elaborating on details. Organisers aim at “stirring up not only sexual minorities, but also ethnic and religious minorities, promote their integration with the majority”. As indicated, it will be the first time ever when representatives of LGBT community will march through Tbilisi streets.
The route of the parade will begin from the State Philharmonic Hall in the centre of Tbilisi and will end up in one of city squares on the banks of the river Kura.
“Everyone is different – everyone is equal” – this will be the logo of the day, and many NGOs have already prepared various souvenirs, posters, T-shirts.
As common in case of many blog or news sites, this sort of news led to a sea of comments from ‘concern citizens’ full with homophobia, verbal abuse and ‘conspiracy theories’. I will not waste my time on reflecting those comments – same old s**t.
I still have some doubts about the authenticity of this information and the nature of the event. It seems to me a bit strange of having Gay Parade as a common event with ethnic and religious minorities, not because I do not wanna see it, quite the contrary, I think all minorities should join forces in their fight for equality and universal human rights for everyone. However, knowing reality and mentality of people there, I doubt that, say, Armenians or Azerbaijanis as “ethnic minority” (not as “sexual minority”) will march with gay Georgians, or that Muslim people as “religious minority” will join the event, unless they are gay. I fear that due to widespread homophobia in Georgian society, like everywhere else in the region, ethnic or religious minorities may find marching with LGBT people or being related to them as too much of negative publicity and trouble for them. Besides, many of representatives of organised ethnic or religious minority groups are homophobes themselves, and along with representatives of various groups from ‘majority’ promote hate and intolerance towards gay people.
I want to be proved wrong (I wish!) and if I am wrong, I will salute organisers of the event. Again, as I mentioned before, this news needs to be confirmed by other sources, and I will certainly keep an eye on all developments in neighbouring Georgia.
Even though homophobia is widespread in society as a whole, the attitude towards gay people in Georgia, especially Tbilisi, is more open-minded and gay scene is more developed than in surrounding countries, as pointed out by Spartacus International Gay Guide (2007). In fact, Georgia was the first country in South Caucasus to decriminalise gay male sex in 2000.
If this information is true and Gay Parade goes ahead, it will be the first most significant event (after decriminalisation of gay male sex) in terms of gay rights movement not only for Georgia, but also for the whole South Caucasus, including Armenia and Azerbaijan.