Crowds break up gay rights rally in Georgia

Fri May 17, 2013 8:21am EDT
 
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By Margarita Antidze

TBILISI (Reuters) - Priests and thousands of other Georgians broke through police barricades and forced gay rights activists to flee on Friday, cutting short their rally to mark the international day against homophobia.

Holding banners saying "Stop Homosexual Propaganda in Georgia!" and "Not in our city!", the demonstrators swarmed into a square in central Tbilisi where about 50 Georgians were rallying in support of gay rights. Police escorted the gay rights supporters onto buses and drove them away to avoid violence.

Several people, including some journalists, received minor injuries, Georgian media said.

"We won't allow these sick people to hold gay parades in our country," said Zhuzhuna Tavadze, brandishing a bunch of nettles and adding that she was ready to fight.

"It's against our traditions and our morals."

Later in the evening, rowdy crowds took to the streets and started shouting at people they thought might be homosexual.

Gay rights activists said they were disappointed.

"These people (gay rights demonstrators)should have the right to express their views and to hold demonstrations," said Nino Bolkvadze, a lawyer of the Identity non-governmental organization.   Continued...

 
Orthodox Christian activists march before clashes with gay rights activists at an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili