Rally Demanding Removal of Gay Sculpture Held in Batumi
BATUMI, Georgia – A group of local activists in Georgia’s Black Sea resort city Batumi held a rally on 26 February demanding the city remove a sculpture that they claim features a gay couple.
The chairman of the Ancestral Patriotic Union of Adjara, Niaz Bolkvadze, claims to have invited several art and sculpture experts to study the sculpture which is a metal figure of two people, one of them kneeling with a heart in its hand.
“When the City Council wrote to me saying that it is a depiction of Romeo and Juliet, I decided to invite a group of experts – artists, sculptors, architects. All 11 of them confirmed my suspicion that both figures are men. Neither of which is even close to looking like a woman,” said Bolkvadze, a politician who ran on the pro-Russian Free Georgia party ticket in Adjara in 2012.
Architect and Deputy Director of the city’s seaside Batumi Boulevard, Gia Baghoshvili, shared Bolkvadze’s opinion saying the sculpture can easily be altered to better resemble a female figure.
“People will see that a man gives a heart to another man, and I'm sorry but this looks like a sculpture of gays. I also see it like that. Is this a declaration of love? How should we interpret this?” said Baghoshvili.
Sculpted by Gela Tsuladze, the statue is one of the most popular, photographed sites in Batumi.
While many in Batumi have offered a more conciliatory tone, saying the sculpture should either remain as is or be modified according to Baghoshvili’s design, others in the community have taken a decidedly more extreme homophobic view of how the situation should be handled.
“This is a sculpture of a couple of gays. Our leadership and city hall know this. Our statement has been filed, but nobody pays attention. We'll take care of this. We’re giving them a week. If they do nothing then I’ll break this so-called monument myself and they’ll have to arrest me if they can,” said a member of the organization, Malkhaz Tsenteradze.
By Ana Akhalaia
Edited by Nicholas Waller