2013-05-22 15:42:00

CoE commissioner urges Georgian authorities to protect gays from homophobes

Strasbourg, May 22, Interfax - Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE) Nils Muiznieks said he urged the Georgian authorities to not allow the reoccurrence of the May 17 events, when a group of activists defending sexual minorities' rights was attacked in central Tbilisi by thousands of their opponents.

"The violence that burst out on Tbilisi streets on International Day Against Homophobia showed that the government has not taken necessary measures to ensure the safety of participants of the rally in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community," Muiznieks said in a statement on Wednesday.

Muiznieks said that it was a positive step that the Georgian authorities, including Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, condemned the violence and promised to punish those guilty of attacking rally participants.

"The Georgian authorities have to suppress and respond to any future threats against LGBT community members, to investigate immediately and to hold liable instigators and executors of violent acts as well," Muiznieks said.

"The absence of such steps would send a false signal to those inciting hatred toward sexual minorities that their actions will remain unpunished," the statement said.

The commissioner said he urged the Georgian authorities to take decisive steps to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities.

"Political leaders and civil society leaders are responsible for achieving this goal," Muiznieks said.

Large-scale clashes between participants of a rally to support sexual minorities and their opponents took place in central Tbilisi on May 17. The rally, organized by the Identity non-governmental organization to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, was ruined by the rally opponents. A total of 28 people, including police officers and a reporter, were injured in the clashes.

Ivanishvili later thanked police who "acted courageously to protect sexual minorities and managed to take them away from raging crowd."