Love cannot be defeated
On 8 July, the Pride Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia, came under massive attack: The central festival area of Tbilisi Pride, where a large festival was to take place on Saturday, was stormed by several thousand people. The attackers from right-wing nationalist, ultra-conservative and Russian Orthodox groups, who had moved to the festival site in an organised protest march, were not stopped by security forces when storming the site. Rather, the police stood by and watched the attack with almost no action. Although they evacuated the festival visitors in buses, they accepted the destruction and the unmistakable threat to LGBTQI+ people – despite previous repeated promises by the Georgian government to guarantee the safety of the Pride Festival and all participants. filia’s solidarity is with the organisers of Tbilisi Pride, the local LGBTQI+ movement and the people in Georgia who stand up for democracy. Love cannot be defeated!
filia is in close contact with its funding partners in Georgia – including the Women’s Fund in Georgia and activists of the multimedia platform GrlzWave.
Concerns about the introduction of a “queer propaganda” law
Our partner organizations, LGBTQI+ activists and human rights organisations internationally fear that the Georgian government could politicise the attack on Tbilisi Pride and soon introduce a so-called “queer propaganda” law. The hypocritical argument of the governmental decision-makers: a topic that divides society as much as the LGBTQI movement must be “regulated” by law or possible representatives of the topic must be sanctioned.
Such a law, which has already been introduced in other countries such as Hungary and Russia, would have far-reaching consequences for the freedom of expression and the safety of many people. Our partners in Georgia tell us that it would then be a criminal offence to for example wear the rainbow symbol: If you are found wearing a rainbow symbol or similar a second time after a warning, you could even be sentenced to prison.
They fear that the law would not only restrict freedom of assembly, but virtually abolish it: people could be arrested at gatherings because, according to the draft law, they would thus be “promoting LGBT propaganda”.
In addition, under the bill, any act or gesture that could “hurt or disrespect the religious feelings of others” would be punished severely and sometimes with imprisonment. This could be for example the consequence for two men holding hands.
Our partners also fear that the new law will strengthen pro-Russian forces, because there is a paragraph on “war propaganda” in the draft law. It aims to punish human rights activists who, for example, organise a rally in support of Ukraine, because the action would be considered “war propaganda”.
We observe the human rights violations in Georgia with great concern and support our partners in the struggle for democratic structures.
Queer and human rights movements in Georgia must be strategically supported
As a long-standing partner of the Federal Foreign Office, with whose support we have also been carrying out feminist projects in Georgia together with our local partners for many years, filia also advocates at the political level for a clear “NO” to anti-democratic tendencies and inhuman attacks. This also includes passing on the needs and demands of our Georgian partners to the Federal Foreign Office. And by campaigning for more funds to flow into the support of feminist grassroots organisations within the framework of feminist foreign policy.
A selection of media reports on the attack on the Pride Festival:
A media report on the planned “Queer Propaganda” law:
Foto Rainbow Flag: B. Kua