Tbilisi Pride Organizers Respond to Levan Vasadze’s Video Address

The first ever Tbilisi LGBT Pride Week is set to be held between June 18-23 to raise awareness about sexual minorities.

On June 16, Georgian businessman and one of the founders of Georgian Demographic Society XXI, Levan Vasadze, well-known for his conservative and anti-western views, introduced the plan to ruin the "Tbilisi Pride" with the supporters gathered in Vere Park. He urged volunteers to join the “Public Legion” and not give the Tbilisi  Pride Participants the opportunity to hold the events scheduled for June 18-23.

“This action plan is devoted to the protection and restoration of order in Georgia,” Vasadze said.

 As Vasadze stated, so-called “Public Legion” established by him will start patrolling in Tbilisi from June 18.

“I want to address whoever gave that order – Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili and whoever in the Georgian government,  make no mistakes! We will not allow the LGBT activists to hold any public action, wherever this would happen, in movie theaters, in parks, in the streets, in the mountains or on the lakes, we will visit you everywhere, we will break through any cordon, and we will overwhelm you!” Vasadze said in his video address on June 15.

The organizers of “Tbilisi Pride” have released a statement responding to the video address of Vasadze.

“Levan Vasadze is threatening for the second time with violation of the law and order, violence against people and police. This time, it can be said that the threat is real and the MIA should immediately launch investigating this case. We also call on the Public Defender and NGOs to evaluate whether this statement contains the signs of the offense," the Tbilisi Pride organizers said.

After Vasadze's aggressive statements about the possible violence against Tbilisi Pride participants and establishment of the "Public Legion," The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation on the facts of creation, management, and membership of illegal formations. 

"The investigation was launched on the facts of creation, joining and management of an illegal formation in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 223 of Criminal Code of Georgia.

We would like to remind everyone, that it is against the law, to create, join or manage any unit as a substitution of legitimate state entities, or call for creation of such unit.
Hereby, according to the law, the only structure responsible for the provision of public order in the country is the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Therefore, any attempt to fulfill the functions of the police or other state agencies will be immediately prevented.
The Ministry will have a respective response to every fact of violence, disobedience to police and other offenses.
Necessary investigative activities will be performed within the scope of investigation and actions of each person possibly committing a crime will be legally assessed", reads the statement released by MIA.

Patriarchy Statement and a Rally

The Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate issued a statement on June 14, demanding that they not allow the LGBT pride to be held in Tbilisi and urging the government not to allow it.

LGBT activists and human rights activists decided to hold a rally after the statement of Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

A campaign titled “State, where are you?” was organized through social media. However, its participants were met by participants of a counterdemonstration, among them businessman Levan Vasadze, well-known for his conservative views, members of the Union of Orthodox Parents, priests and right-wing activists.

Levan Vasadze said he would not allow LGBT activists to hold the rally.

The demonstration of LGBT activists was fenced off by a police cordon; eight participants of the contraction were arrested for aggressive behavior.

MIA Calls on Participants of the Events to Observe the Law 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs released the statement and called on participants of the events to observe the law, otherwise “police will act in accordance with its mandate”.

“The police will protect freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of each person during the various events planned in the coming days”, - reads the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“As for the various events planned in the coming days, the police will protect freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of each person, regardless of his/her political views, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.”, reads the statement.

Archbishop Jacob's Views  

Archbishop Jacob spoke about the developments between the supporters and opponents of Tbilisi Pride and noted that the confrontation is not good for the country.

“There may be various kinds of rules in different parts of the world, but it is not necessary the same to be introduced in our country”, he said.

According to him, liberalism means freedom, but it also considers coexistence with another person.

"I want to address liberals to stop the moral terror of the population and live as they want to live, nobody is oppressing them”, the Archbishop said.

Photo: Tbilisi Pride/Facebook 

By Ana Dumbadze 

17 June 2019 11:19