Riot breaks out after footballer wears rainbow armband in support of LGBT rights
Eight people were arrested after a riot sparked by a footballer’s support for LGBT rights.
Guram Kashia, Vice-Captain of the Georgian national team, showed his support for LGBT equality by wearing a rainbow armband with his kit.
The show of solidarity caused protests from far-right extremists Georgian March.
Kashia wore the armband while playing for his Dutch club, Vitesse Arnhem, to coincide with the Netherlands’ national ‘Coming Out Day’.
Protestors are demanding Kashia be kicked off the Georgian Football Federation’s national team in response to his support for LGBT rights.
The protest soon turned into a riot as they lit smoke bombs, flares and shouted homophobic slurs.
A rainbow flag was also publicly burned outside the Georgian Football Federation.
The eight rioters were arrested on charges of resisting police and minor hooliganism.
Georgia’s president backed the footballer, however, saying he is free to express himself.
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President Giorgi Margvelashvili wrote on Facebook: “Everyone has the right for freedom of expression.”
“We should respect human rights and liberties.
“I stand with the unanimous support that sporting society has expressed toward Guram Kashia.”
The Georgian Football Federation also reportedly supported Kashia’s efforts.
Georgia has introduced a number of LGBT-friendly laws in recent years.
It is illegal to discriminate in the provision of goods and services based on gender or sexuality, and hate speech is outlawed.
However marriage, adoption, gay people serving openly in the military and lesbians accessing IVF are all illegal.