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Tbilisi Pride holds 30 minutes of ‘Dignity March’

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Tuesday, July 9
After several cancelations and postponements, Dignity March was held near the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Tbilisi.

Although only a few people attended, organizers of Tbilisi Pride said that Dignity March was successfully held. LGBTQ+ activists finally marched, after canceling the rally because of the leaders of the ultraconservative groups gathered at the place where Tbilisi pride organizers and their supporters planned to meet.

Tbilisi Pride, which originally was scheduled to be held earlier yesterday, was canceled after the information about the location leaked in the social media.

Organizers announced on Sunday evening that the march would take place in an unidentified location the following morning; however, the information was leaked that the Dignity March would be conducted near the building of MIA, after which, organizers decided to cancel the march, because of the threats made by homophobic ultraconservative groups.

Although the march was canceled, several homophobic ultraconservative groups still started gathering in Tbilisi streets to prevent pride from happening.

Levan Vasadze, one of the leaders of the ultraconservative groups, called on supporters to gather in Tbilisi and have white handkerchiefs with them to recognize each other, as well as belts to use against march participants.

Vasadze and his supporters started gathering near the building of MIA yesterday morning, as he said, the main reason behind their protest was to prevent “propaganda of perversion.” After their gathering, protesters decided to change their location and they moved in front of the building of Georgian Parliament, where the anti-occupation rally was announced to start at 7 PM for the 19th consecutive day.

Without prior announcement, organizers of Tbilisi Pride and few supporters started Dignity March in front of the building of MIA later on July 8. During the ‘Dignity March,’ activists demanded the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, for not being able to provide security for the march, which was intended to be much larger.

After the ultraconservative groups said that they would move from Parliament to the place where LGBTQ+ activists were gathered, protesters decided to end Dignity March and left the place.

By the time Vasadze arrived at the location of the ‘Dignity March,’ LGBTQ+ activists had already left the place. As Vasadze said, “Tbilisi Pride has become Tbilisi Hide, they are now playing hide and seek,” and compared activists to rabbits. As he said, “sadly we can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

After the ‘Dignity March’, representatives of Tbilisi Pride published a special statement, which reads that despite the attempts of radical groups and government to “sabotage our events, we managed to hold our March of Dignity today!”

“Public space belongs to us as well, and we are not willing to give it up!” reads the statement.

Since the day of announcement in February, the Pride week has been a subject of controversy. As expected, the organizers received backlash from homophobic, ultraconservative groups, as well as the Georgian Orthodox Church. MIA told the organizers that they wouldn’t be able to provide security for the ‘March of Dignity.’ The organizers postponed the march after the events of the night of June 20. Tbilisi Pride week successfully took place on June 18-23, with the announced events happening at various locations, except for the ‘Dignity March.’