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    Anti-LGBT protesters break up Pride festival in Georgia


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    (Reuters) – Up to 2,000 anti-LGBT protesters disrupted a Gay Pride festival in the capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia on Saturday. The protesters clashed with police and vandalized props, including rainbow flags and placards. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

    The event organizers accused the authorities of actively cooperating with the demonstrators to disrupt the festival. However, Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Darakhvelidze countered this claim, stating, “The protesters managed to find ways to enter the event area, but we were able to safely evacuate the Pride participants and organizers.”

    The director of Tbilisi Pride, Mariam Kvaratskhelia, confirmed that all event participants had been safely transported away from the scene. However, she criticized the authorities’ handling of the event, noting that it had been held in a private location for the second year in a row to minimize the risk of violent protests.

    Leading up to the Pride events, far-right groups openly incited violence against LGBT+ activists. Kvaratskhelia expressed disappointment that the police and interior ministry had declined to investigate these threats. She suggested that the disruption was a preplanned and coordinated action between the government and radical groups, with the intention of sabotaging Georgia’s EU candidacy.

    Georgia’s President, Salome Zourabichvili, joined in the criticism of the police, stating that they had failed in their duty to protect people’s right to assemble safely. Georgia aspires to join the European Union, but the ruling Georgian Dream Party has faced increasing criticism for its perceived drift towards authoritarianism.

    In March, the party withdrew a bill resembling the Russian model that would have required NGOs receiving significant foreign funding to register as “agents of foreign influence” – a move that sparked violent street protests. While Georgia has enacted laws against discrimination and hate crimes, LGBT+ rights groups believe that law enforcement officials do not provide adequate protection, and homophobia remains prevalent in the socially conservative South Caucasus nation.

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    Two years ago, a group of journalists were assaulted during attacks on LGBT+ activists in Tbilisi, with one journalist, cameraman Alexander Lashkarava, later found dead at his home – a tragedy that sparked outrage and further protests in the capital city.

    (Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Ros Russell)

    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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