Georgia football captain goes shirtless to thank fans for pro-LGBT support against far right trolls
A moving video has showed the captain of Georgia’s national football team, Guram Kashia, thanking fans for supporting his pro-LGBT+ stance.
In August, Kashia was awarded the Uefa’s first ever #EqualGame award for his support for the LGBT+ community—despite a far-right backlash in his home country.
Anti-LGBT protestors responded with flares, smoke bombs—and even set fire to a Pride flag outside the Georgian Football Federation’s headquarters—after Kashia wore a rainbow armband for Dutch Eredivisie team Vitesse in October.
“I believe in equality for everyone, no matter what you believe in, who you love or who you are,” the football star reportedly said at the time, adding: “Football is a force for social change.”
Now, progressive Georgian football fans have shown their support for the captain by waving Pride flags—and wearing rainbow armbands—during a Georgia versus Latvia Nations League match at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.
Anti-gay protestors reportedly protested outside the stadium, demanding an “apology” from Kashia over his pro-LGBT+ stance.
A touching video filmed at the end of the match shows Kushia applauding fans, before taking off his shirt and throwing it into the crowd.
According to Equality Movement, the largest queer organisation in Georgia, authorities confiscated Pride flags and memorabilia from fans in searches on their way into the stadium—and also forcibly removed rainbow flags from some supporters in the grounds.
The group said that supporters were only allowed in with banners “in which Guram Kashia did not have the LGBT armband.”
Still, some supporters made it in to the grounds and were able to display their LGBT+ flags and banners.
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Truly uplifting video from last night’s #Georgia game of Guram Kashia throwing his shirt into the crowd to thank fans for their support in what was the biggest show of #LGBT solidarity action ever seen in Eastern European football. ️ ️ ️ @EqualityGeorgia pic.twitter.com/vadDGnv3em
— Fare (@farenet) September 10, 2018
“The law enforcement officers were mobilized on the site, they searched the fans and in case of detecting LGBT symbols and flags, they forced the guests to leave them at the entrance,” Equality Movement said in a statement after the match.
“It should be noted that LGBT activists were acting in full compliance with the Georgian legislation and Dinamo stadium rules.
“Despite the censorship by the law enforcers, several activists at the stadium were able to take certain attributes inside the stadium secretly. However, as soon as the LGBT activists took out the rainbow flag, the police took it away forcefully.”