Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Respects: Georgia PM Ivanishvili publicly supports rights of LGBT citizens ahead of IDAHO rally in Tbilisi

Georgia PM Bidzina Ivanishvili is the first and so far the only (effectively) head of state in the South Caucasus who publicly voiced his support for equal rights of all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.

Says Georgia PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, commenting on upcoming rally in downtown Tbilisi by gay rights activists to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on 17th May: “I have said for multiple times previously that sexual minorities are the same citizens as we are… The society will gradually get used to it. I know there is part of the society which fails to accept it. There are law enforcement agencies in our state and we will do everything in order to protect rights of any minority group and that will be the case in this situation too.”

Pretty groundbreaking statement in a region where homophobia is widespread. In a region where officials, e.g. in Armenia, publicly and without consequences support and justify anti-gay attacks.

My respects to PM Ivanishvili. As a friend of mine commented on Facebook: “So while they're passing anti gay laws in Russia... Georgia's moving into the 21st century.” reports that on the same day a parallel rally is also planned by anti-gay, Orthodox activists.
Asked how the authorities would act in a situation when there are threats against planned gay rights rally, Ivanishvili responded: “We will protect the rights; [planned two parallel] rallies will probably be distanced from each other; I can’t tell you specifics how it will be done, but there are police, which will stand in the middle and will not allow [anyone] to obstruct others.”  
Asked about his opinion on same-sex marriage, Ivanishvili responded that it was not an issue right now in Georgia and there was no need “to put the cart before the horse. reminds that the first-ever march of a small group of rainbow flag-waving gay activists in Georgia, where anti-gay prejudice runs deep, was held last May. But at the time the march ended in a scuffle with an Orthodox group, which blocked activists' way not allowing them to continue procession. [picture above from 2012 IDAHO in Tbilisi - by InterPressNews, via]

In solidarity with LGBT activists in Tbilisi, Georgia

Identoba, LGBT rights organisation in Georgia, is planning to organise a peaceful action on 17th May – International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

IDAHO has a specific local importance for Georgia. In 2012, Tbilisi IDAHO march was attacked by religious fundamentalists. Several activists were verbally and physically assaulted. The government didn't launched an investigation.

In order to draw attention to the problems faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Georgia, LGBT activists, Identoba and other human rights defenders are planning a 30 minute silent flashmob. The flashmob will start on 13.00 in front of the former parliament building in Tbilisi. All participants will be asked to wear a t-shirt with one of the colours of the rainbow. The participants will be holding posters deploying the discrimination experiences by LGBT individuals in the country.  More details about the campaign on: