- Title: GEORGIA: Conservative activists break up gay rally in Georgia
- Date: 17th May 2013
- Summary: TBLISI, GEORGIA (MAY 17, 2013) (REUTERS) WIDE OF RALLY IN PROGRESS WITH POLICE BANNER READING 'STOP PROMOTING HOMOSEXUAL PROPAGANDA IN GEORGIA' PEOPLE, INCLUDING CONSERVATIVE ACTIVISTS AND PRIESTS WALKING IN MARCH POLICE RUNNING (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) MEMBER OF ANTI-GAY DEMONSTRATION ZAZA DAVITAIA, SAYING: "I join my voice and my position to those who are gathered here. We are against the rally, which comes in contradiction to Georgian morals and traditions. They have the financial support of some organisations abroad and they wanted to hold a demonstration against Georgian morals." PEOPLE HOLDING SIGNS READING 'NOT IN OUR CITY' VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS, INCLUDING CHURCH MEMBERS SINGING AND HOLDING NETTLE PLANTS POLICE BY BARRIERS VARIOUS OF CROWD SCUFFLING VARIOUS OF PEOPLE RUNNING THROUGH STREETS, POLICE ATTEMPTING TO STOP THEM CROWD PUSHING, CHEERING BUS MOVING THROUGH CROWD (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) GEORGIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST ARCHIMANDRITE IOANNE, SAYING: "It's unacceptable in any way, especially today. It's a plan of some forces, who try our patience, to force us to make a mistake and then act according their own programme." LARGE CROWD GATHERING IN STREET
- Embargoed: 1st June 2013 13:00
- Location: Georgia
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Politics,People
- Reuters ID: LVAAB7XCIAUJHEX5FKU7MEZ2XK5Q
- Story Text: Georgian Orthodox believers interrupted a rally in honour of the International Day Against Homophobia on Friday (May 17) in Tbilisi, breaking through police cordons and clashing with gay activists.
The conservative protesters, led by black-skirted priests, held signs reading "Stop promoting homosexual propaganda in Georgia" and "Not in my city".
Some activists brought nettle plants, with which they intended to beat gay people, they told Reuters.
"I join my voice and my position to those who are gathered here. We are against the rally, which comes in contradiction to Georgian morals and traditions. They have the financial support of some organisations abroad and they wanted to hold a demonstration against Georgian morals," anti-gay activist Zaza Davitaia said.
What was planned as a peaceful demonstration in front of the old parliament building by about 30 people in the Georgian capital ended with masses of people pushing and police trying to restrain conservative activists. Several people, including some journalists, received minor injuries, local media said.
The march last year ended similarly, and on Thursday (May 16), the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, told the authorities not to allow the rally saying it was "a violation of majority's right" and "an insult" to Georgian traditions. He has previously described homosexuality as an "anomaly and a disease".
"It's unacceptable in any way, especially today. It's a plan of some forces, who try our patience, to force us to make a mistake and then act according their own programme," said Georgian Orthodox priest Archimandrite Ioanne.
Later rowdy crowds took to the streets and started picking on people they thought may be homosexual.
Georgia, a former Soviet republic of 4.5 million people, is a traditional country where the majority of the people are Orthodox Christians.
While homosexuals face discrimination in many of the countries of the Soviet Union, a report last year by ILGA Europe, a nongovernmental organisation that surveys attitudes to LGBT issues, only Georgia and the Baltic states in the former Soviet Union got positive ratings for their record of gay tolerance and freedoms.
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