Sunday, 19 May 2013

Part III: Criminal church: Georgian Orthodox Church incited and led anti-gay attacks in Tbilisi

“The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, has called for calm after violence that erupted after aggressive anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox clergy, thwarted a rally by a small group of gay rights activists to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.”

Really, Patriarch Ilia? So, first you incite violence by your actions and by Georgian Orthodox church priests leading the attack towards gay rights event participants. And then, post factum, you “call for calm” and continue: “We distance from violence,” Patriarch Ilia II said in a televised remarks on Friday evening.”

I do not think so. You can’t so easily “distance from violence”. You and your church are acting so outside the law.

Let’s look at the selection of photos below that truly made me speechless. I want to pretend that these are the images from nightmares, or films, or from completely different era. But these are the images from the heart of “modern Tbilisi”.

*picture by © Onnik Krikorian 2013

And this animated picture clearly shows a Georgian priest, 'servant of God', attacking bus escorting LGBT activists:

*ready to attack... with "taburetka" (source:

Here are other eyewitness accounts: 17 May, IDAHO: – Georgian society showed its embedded ‘hospitality’ and ‘tolerance’

*Women in front of old Parliament building holding nettle. 
They were told that nettle is not a weapon so they could use them to hit homosexuals. (source)  

*Bringing stinging nettles to a rally to beat any LGBT activists with... (*picture by © Onnik Krikorian 2013)

*Young girl asking everybody to give her a bottle or stone to throw towards activists. 
She was really excited  and happy to be part of the violent demonstration, finally! (source 

Another eyewitness account: The Day That God Died (read also her blog post a day before: Before the Battle)

Pretty telling title of the New York Times piece: Crowd Led by Priests Attacks Gay Rights Marchers in Georgia
"They wanted to kill all of us,” said Irakli Vacharadze, the head of Identoba, the Tbilisi-based gay rights advocacy group that organized the rally. Nino Bolkvadze, 35, a lawyer for the group who was among the marchers, said that if they had not been close to the buses when the violence began, “we would all have been corpses.” Amnesty International has called on the Georgian authorities to investigate the violence and bring to justice those responsible: “It is becoming a dangerous trend in Georgia to condone and leave unpunished the acts of violence against religious and sexual minorities if they are perpetrated by the Orthodox religious clergy or their followers. It is simply unacceptable for the authorities to continue to allow attacks in the name of religion or on the basis of anyone's real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

Giga Bokeria, Secretary of National Security Council criticised those Orthodox clergy, who led anti-gay protesters and said: “Any cleric, who commits violence or calls for violence in a dangerous situation, is committing a crime, according to the Georgian legislation. I hope there will be people in the Church who will say this. But, unfortunately, in today’s developments ‘moral’ initiative was in the hands of those, who preach hatred and commit violence. These people should be punished in accordance to the law.”
To sum up: on 17th May 2013, the Georgian Orthodox Church displayed itself like a typical outlaw, like some kind of terrorist group or similar. And to conclude, few more reactions, as posted on Twitter:

@CrazyPsyKO: The Taliban and the Orthodox zealot-priests on the streets of #Tbilisi, #Georgia today have rather more in common than beards.

@onewmphoto: After yesterday's shameful homophobic mob rule, Georgia's future will now be determined by whether the Church's obscene power is challenged.

@onewmphoto: One thing's for sure. The Georgian Church has proven itself to be the main obstacle to Georgia's democratization. This needs to be addressed

Part I: Victory for homophobes. Defeat for Georgia

Part II: LGBT activists under attack in Tbilisi: Georgian police and politicians

Part IV: the aftermath of church-led homophobic attacks in Georgia. PM Ivanishvili delivers groundbreaking Independence Day speech


artmika said...

Some good words by Ivanishvili re not sparing clergy responsibility. What I dislike in Georgia PM statements is an attempt at blaming 'outside forces'. The source is well inside.

“I will repeat once again my clear-cut position that being a member of the clergy cannot be an alibi for anyone and those, who committed a crime and exceeded the law, those, who were calling for violence and those who resorted to violence, will be punished,” Ivanishvili said.

artmika said...

Some positive news, to start with. There should be more, and the process should be consistent.

Two Clerics Charged over May 17 Violence

Criminal charges have been filed against two clerics of the Georgian Orthodox Church in connection to the May 17 violence when an attempted anti-homophobia rally was disrupted, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

The two clerics were charged without being arrested.

Archimandrite at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Antimoz (Tamaz) Bichinashvili, and father superior at Ioane-Tornike Eristavi Monastery, Iotam (Irakli) Basilaia have been charged under the first part of article 161 of the criminal code, the Interior Ministry said.

The criminal charge involves illegally impeding right to assembly and demonstration with use of force or threat of force and carries either fine or one year of “corrective work” or imprisonment for two years.

“Investigation into the May 17 incident continues,” the Interior Ministry said in its brief written announcement on its website.

One of the two clerics facing criminal charges, Antimoz Bichinashvili, is seen in one video footage from the May 17 developments, swearing and shouting as the crowd was moving violently towards the gay rights activists: “We will kill you.”

Three young men and a 16-year-old boy were arrested by the police on May 19 and fined by the court on May 21 with GEL 100 each and released after they were found guilty of petty hooliganism during the May 17 developments.