Current Affairs

Georgia: Pro-Russian ‘fake pride’ planned in attempt to derail EU agreement

Alice Milliken June 30, 2014
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Georgian activists accuse pro-Russian group of attempting to organise a pride parade in order to postpone trade agreement with the EU.

The Guardian reports Giorgi Chkhartishvilli, a Georgian sex worker, was offered money to stage a transgender rally on 17 May, the first anniversary of a peaceful demonstration that ended in violence last year.

Chkhartishvilli: “The man told me the Eurasian Institute would give me 40,000 Georgian lari [£13,300] to organise a parade. This is an organisation that is trying to get Georgia to join the Eurasian Union instead of the European Union.”

These allegations, suggesting a desire to repeat last years homophobic attacks by an anti-EU, pro-Russian organization, come at a precarious time for Georgia.

On Friday Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, signed a trade agreement with the EU allowing unrestricted access to the 28-nation bloc’s 500 million consumers – the world’s largest and wealthiest market.

The EU requires that countries meet its standards on human rights and democracy, corruption, rule of law and economy, before they are allowed into agreements with the international body.

In an article published by Eurasianet.org last May, Koba Turmanidze, country director of the Caucasus Research Resource Centres (CRRC), spoke to Georgia’s frustrations with international calls to respect minorities’ right to assemble, which are seen as demands to change Georgian society. “[I]t is hard to say whether people understand that no one asks you to become gay, no one asks you to marry a person of your gender; you are just asked not to beat these people up,” Turmanidze said.

In the months following last May’s violent attack in Tbilisi against peaceful demonstration recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the CRRC conducted a survey on the events of 17 May 2013 in the capital city. 542 surveys were completed between 30 May and 18 June.

The results of the survey showed some paradoxes in the opinions of Tbilisi residents:

When asked if physical violence is always unacceptable 87% agreed. However, when asked if physical violence can be acceptable toward those people or groups who endanger national values 50% agreed and 46% disagreed.

When asked what a good citizen should always do 72% said defend tradition, 64% respect ethnic minorities, 63% respect religious minorities, while 49% said a good citizen should never respect the rights of sexual minorities.

The church was an important element of the May 2013 events. 90% of respondents believe the Georgian Orthodox church should be open to everyone, 45% believe the Church should be intolerant towards sexual minorities. 71% think the clergy should have gone to the May demonstration, but 67% say the clergy should not have directly participated in the confrontation. Nevertheless, 57% believe the clergy who participated should not face trial.

When asked what the main result of the May 17 events were, 34% responded ‘defending the dignity of Georgians,’ followed by 29% ‘confrontation between people.’

Despite what Alex Petriashvili, the state minister on European and Euro-Atlantic integration, called “the screaming of some small groups about Georgia joining the Eurasian Economic Union,” the Georgian government is committed to going forward with the signing this Friday. “The sooner we sign … we will make clear that the integration of Georgia into the European Union is an irreversible process.”

Related topics: Anti-gay, EU, Europe, Georgia, Georgia, Homophobia, human rights, Russia

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