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Georgia News Alert

Georgia: Demonstration planned in Tbilisi May 17

Georgian Orthodox Church plans demonstration in Tbilisi May 17; heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions possible

16 May 10:10 PM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 5/16/2018, 12:00 AM until 5/17/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Tbilisi). COUNTRY/REGION Abkhazia

Event

The Georgian Orthodox Church is planning to hold a march in Tbilisi on Thursday, May 17, to celebrate the Day of Family Purity. Supporters are expected to begin the demonstration with an outdoor church service at Kashueti Church on Rustaveli Avenue, and then march from Rose Revolution Square to Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The Orthodox Church demonstration was expected to coincide with now-canceled pro-LGBTQ and far-right demonstrations. The pro-LGBTQ Equality Movement has announced that it will cancel their planned rally on May 17 (in observance of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia) amid extant security concerns and threats from far-right groups; the "March of Georgians" far-right group has responded by canceling their own planned counter-rallies. Despite the cancelation, some pro-LGBTQ activists may still hold a protest in front of the Chancellery building on Thursday, and far-right protests are still possible. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions (including closures of roads to vehicle traffic, particularly from the Philharmonic Concert Hall to Freedom Square) are expected near protest sites. Clashes between rival protesters cannot be ruled out.

Context

Far-right protesters held large protests in Tbilisi on May 12-13, threatening violence against pro-LGBTQ activists.

On May 17, 2013, several dozen LGBTQ rights activists staging a demonstration in Tbilisi were violently confronted by thousands of anti-LGBTQ protesters, led by priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church. At least 28 people were wounded in the clashes, with anti-LGBTQ protesters beating and throwing rocks at pro-LGBTQ activists. 

Advice

Individuals in Tbilisi are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.