News & Analysis

Georgia to investigate anti-LGBT ‘civil patrols’

Georgia’s interior ministry has launched an official investigation into an appeal made by businessman Levan Vasadze calling for the creation of anti-LGBT ‘civil patrols’ with the aim of preventing pride events taking place in the capital Tbilisi.

According to agenda.ge, the Georgian businessman, who has been on the board of a number of leading Russian companies, said that civil units should “patrol” the streets of Tbilisi to prevent pro-LGBT events. “The groups will not be armed, but they will oppose the police and break their cordons if necessary,” he said during an anti-LGBT rally on June 16.

On June 18, the Georgian businessman backtracked from his earlier promise and cancelled the patrols, but said: “We hope that no LGBT events will take place. If this happens, we will stand where we must stand [to defend traditional values],” he added.

On June 15, 28 right-wing protesters, demanding that events linked to Tbilisi Pride Month be halted, were detained after they clashed with police in front of a government building.

The organisers of Tbilisi Pride Month, as well as MPs of both the ruling and opposition parties have condemned the businessman’s threats and urged the Georgian authorities to take action. “I do not approve of provoking unrest from any party involved,” Georgian president Salome Zurabishvili said in a statement, adding that “none of the citizens of Georgia must be discriminated against.”

The majority of the Tbilisi Pride events take place between June 18-23, and are the first ever public events in Georgia with the aim of raising awareness about the rights of sexual minorities.