We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take adequate action in response to threats from violent groups

5 Nov, 2019

The Coalition for Equality responds to threats spread in media by the leaders of violent groups. According to Sandro Bregadze, leader of the Georgian March, his movement plans to disrupt the premiere of the LGBTI-themed feature film “And Then We Danced” and block access to cinemas. [1] Guram Palavandishvili, Chairman of the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights, has announced that audiences will not be allowed into Tbilisi and Batumi cinemas and his supporters will occupy the cinema halls.

Physical violence against people with different opinions and damaging their property is a method used by the Georgian March and other violent groups in the past. Consequently, because of their threats, those who intend to attend the November 8 premiere of the film are facing a real danger.

It is alarming that the authorities do not make statements about the tolerance towards those who are different in response to threats from violent groups. Their political rhetoric and messages to vulnerable groups are largely ambiguous and in contradiction with the notions of human rights and equality.  Not only does the government provide no rhetorical opposition to oppose the threats coming from such groups on the level of rhetoric, but it even encourages their violent acts by not responding to such facts.

The negative role of both opposing groups in the Georgian Orthodox Church deserves a separate mention. For years, they have been instrumentalizing and creating an image of the enemy from the LGBTI community in order to gain or consolidate power. The statement made by the head of the press service of the Patriarchate, Andria Jaghmaidze, can be considered as a support to the actions of the violent groups. Jaghmaidze claims that the screening of the film “And Then We Danced” in Georgian Cinemas is an attempt to undermine Georgian values.

Given the hostility of the above-mentioned groups towards the LGBT community, the Coalition for Equality calls on:

Ministry of Internal Affairs:

  • To undertake appropriate preparatory work before November 8, 2019, in order to prevent a real threat of violence;
  • To mobilize the sufficient number of police forces in the vicinity of the respective film theatres to prevent violence or damage to other’s property, risk of which is real given the threats from violent groups and their past activities.

Representatives of Georgian authorities:

  • To make unequivocal statements in support of tolerance, as well as warn the potential offenders of impending accountability.

The statement is signed by the organizations – members of the Coalition for Equality:

  • Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSFG)
  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
  • Article 42 of the Constitution
  • Union “Safari”
  • Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA)
  • Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG)
  • Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
  • Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
  • Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
  • Human Rights Center (HRC)