Hi, I'm Elene

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I'm from Georgia, Tbilisi. I graduated with a degree of journalism, and I'd love to be a part of your film academy where I can make an impact in the media and film industry.

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ELENE MESKHIA

Hi, I'm Elene

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July 1-5, 2021 was Pride Week in Georgia, but Georgian government stole it. I want to tell you

about this story with my photos and videos

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How the Georgian government stole Tbilisi Pride

Similar events in support of the LGBT community are held annually around the world in June-July. However, the difference in Georgia compared to other countries is that here the representatives of the LGBT community, due to the political and social context, protest their rights against the violation. Pride was held for the first time in Georgia in 2019, since then Tbilisi Pride representatives announce the event every year, but all of them are accompanied by threats and violence from radical groups.

Supporters of Tbilisi

Pride

Radical, violent groups

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The existence of radical anti-Pride groups in the country would be less of a problem if the government had an adequate approach to them. Over the years, it has become apparent that under none of the Prime Ministers, the LGBT community has had any real support, and no measures have been taken to protect them during this

period.

This year's Pride did not pass without violence. Although the first two events were held indoors, various

groups still tried to disrupt them. As part of the event, a march of honor was scheduled for July 5, which was to be held in public in an open space. In addition to the LGBT community, other civic or political groups joined

the march of honor.

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The day before, the patriarchate announced a "peaceful prayer" near the Kashueti church on Rustaveli Avenue, which soon escalated into violence. 53 journalists injured in attacks by radical groups. 1 beaten cameraman, Lekso Lashkarava, died on July 11.

Tbilisi Pride abolished the March of Dignity, that is, it turned out that the LGBT community again had to renounce its rights and freedom of expression due to the danger to life.

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To be honest, I feel abandoned, ignored. I’m watching TV, listening to politicians, journalists and realise that the whole context has disappeared. Everyone tries to escape even our mention as if we don't exist, as if nothing has happened to us. At this time, the government is declaring open war on the activists, they are attacking the streets again, and we don't exist for the politicians. If someone says a few words about young people of color, we are happy about that, because we all know that only colored people are not meant by this code phrase.

Pride organizer, Anna Subeliani OP-ED

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The perpetrators broke into the office of Tbilisi Pride

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The violent actions on July 5 were preceded by the Prime Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili:

“March today contains the threat of civil

confrontation, As you know, holding this march

is unacceptable for the majority of the

population, Therefore, I believe that this action

should not be held on Rustaveli Avenue. We should all understand that this is Georgia, we have our traditions and rules and everyone should respect that”. - said Gharibashvili.

Gharibashvili's speech was considered as a green light for the perpetrators. The Prime Minister's statements are a fact that 53 journalists were injured and the specific group of the society was violated. The government should have known that threat was real. Tbilisi Pride organizers started communication with the Ministry of

Internal Affairs long before the Pride Week.

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Giorgi Tabagari, one of the organizers of the Tbilisi Pride, says that the Prime Minister could have done a lot to prevent violence, but in his estimation, Gharibashvili not only condemned the violence, but also encouraged it.

“In this situation, the Prime Minister of a normal country could do a lot. Could have acted preventively and arrested the organizers of the violence. But Gharibashvili's statement was a direct encouragement that you can go can do whatever you want to the activists. The journalists were on the front line in all this, we really miraculously got out of the Shame Movement’s office. I think Gharibashvili is one of the worst prime ministers in terms of values. He is a homophobe and is responsible for the violence, he is responsible for the death of cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, who was beaten to death by the perpetrators”. - says Giorgi Tabagari.

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There have been some improvements since 2013, including an anti- discrimination law that prohibits all forms of discrimination. No matter what it is - race, skin color, language, gender, age, citizenship, origin, place of birth, place of residence, property or rank status, religion or belief, national, ethnic or social affiliation, profession, marital status, health status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, political or other views.

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The fact that the LGBT community does not have the support of the current Prime Minister can be seen in other statements of Irakli Gharibashvili. The Prime Minister claims that the rights of the LGBT community are protected in the country and they have no problems:

"Our population has no problem with anyone, not even with these people. Every day these people, members of minorities, work and live in an absolutely normal situation and regime. They pose no threat to our country. There is no evidence of such discrimination”. - he said.

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The events of July 5 prove the opposite. The organizers of Tbilisi Pride also think differently from Gharibashvili. The organizers of the Pride say that the march of dignity has a fundamental importance, and with the march of honor, they do not even celebrate anything but express their concern and protest.

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"It’s very simple. People spend their whole lives in hiding, you can go to a club, but don’t go out. Do not go out means a lot, it means you don’t have the right to be in the park with your loved one and behave like others, You don’t have the right to be married, you don’t have the right to have children, you don’t have the right to the many benefits that come with it, and it's all discriminatory. That’s why we need to be visible, to come out of the underground, to give people a voice to change those attitudes. Today, for example, if 80% is homophobic, tomorrow we want to be 70%, day after tomorrow we want to be 60% and if we come to 50% then we’ll have the opportunity to think about other things and live peacefully”. - said Giorgi Tabagari.

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Despite the difficult and long process, Giorgi Tabagari thinks that the activism of the society will bring results and in the end people will live in a country where despite the differences, they are not abused.

"I'm actually in activism because I believe in change, I believe that people can make a difference. I

believe in people who try to do something in this country at the cost of health and risk, and I believe that

god and good will triumph over evil”. - Giorgi Tabagari.

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On July 6, The next day after the violent events, While people were gathering in support of Pride, A rainbow appeared in the sky:) what a sign from the universe. It was so symbolic.

July 6, Tbilisi, Georgia

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Dedicated to the memory of Lekso Lashkrava, The cameraman who was beaten to

death on July 5th. He was found dead in his home on July 11.

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Love is love, always and everywhere

Violence in the name of religion and patriotism