My colleague and I went to Rustaveli Avenue, in Tbilisi, Georgia to join a flash mob marking International Day of Homophobia and Transphobia. We went there early, we wanted to see counter-protesters who started rally early in the morning.
* Rally of Priests and the parish walking towards old Parliament building
While Nelly and I were standing in the street with lipstick and camera on witnessed an incredible hate and violence today! We saw thousands of people walking towards old parliament building, clergy, priests, the parish, ordinary people, and saw even school children brought to the venue by school mini-buses. These people were walking proudly as if they were celebrating something. They were shouting: ‘Death to faggots’, ‘We protect our children from the disease of faggots’, ‘all faggots should be killed and stoned to death’, ‘we are here to show our religion and morality’; Exactly, as if hate and violence is part of Christianity and Christian Values.
I decided to inject into the crowd of homophobes who were already having manifestation in front of the old Parliament building. I was among them hearing and watching everything that I did not want to hear. Women, men, young girls and boys, elderly people – all together were standing there with nettle and waiting for homosexuals to hit them with nettle, saying that since they are not allowed to use iron or wooden sticks they will use nettles to hit ‘faggots’.
It was a manifestation of hate, violence, aggression! It was a pure representation of general public!
* Anti-IDAHO protesters in front of old Parliament
Today I witnessed a demonstration and rally of Stone Age society, dark, ignorant, violent who think that they are Christians; those who strongly believe that homosexuals should be killed and they are ready to kill them in order to demonstrate their power and discharge their aggression a little bit.
* Women in front of old Parliament building holding nettle. They were told that nettle is not a weapon so they could use them to hit homosexuals.
Since I was ‘well injected’ into the crowd, anti-IDAHO protesters were sharing their expectations with me, asking me if any of ‘faggots’ were killed already?
* Crowd in traditional costumes. Waiting for Homosexuals to kill
I was calling WISG and Women’s Fund in Georgia members and other feminist activists to find out their location. Finally when I reached them I saw them surrounded by crowd and some police officers. However the number of crowd and police was disproportionate. I went to stand with women and crowd started to throw stones on us and spit on us. Some of the girls were injured by stones and ‘hateful spit’ was flying towards female participants from men, women and young girls from the violent crowd. They were swearing at police and asking them to move and let the crowd kill these ‘faggots’ and sinners! As one of the participants told me later if not representatives of UN women’s local staff and Public Defender Office, who showed their cards, police would not have taken any step to arrange a bus for girls to evacuate. I could not follow all the things because I did not know where to look and how to act. Crowd was trying to move police away all the time.
* celebrating Victory of Georgian Nation!!!
When finally yellow mini-bus appeared, female participants were evacuated and I was blocked by crowd and police, later. ‘Lucky’ me, for the crowd I was one of them. In a few seconds, when they got to the minibus, crowd attacked minibus and soon broke all the windows and got in to the minibus to continue violence. As a result, girls are injured and humiliated.
* police hugging anti-IDAHO protester
There was no IDAHO today! It was a victory of violence and hate! I walked back to Rustaveli. People were walking with a ‘Pride’, satisfied and ‘discharged’. However, many of them were not fully satisfied since they could not see dead bodies of homosexuals on Rustaveli avenue, so crowd was taking last chances to run after any person who they suspected in homosexuality, in order to attack, in order to kill in order to clean holly Georgia from homosexuals.
* Marriott guards are also happy
Looking back at yesterday’s meeting at Radisson blue hotel, where representatives of diplomatic missions, ambassadors and Georgian government showing support with their touching and encouraging words to WISG and Indetoba, it was ironic that I could not see any of them when female participants of IDAHO were attacked by crowd today. I suppose they were protected better by police unlike female participants who have been alone, without support and injured.
* Crowd is chasing one person who they suspect in homosexuality to stone him to death, as they were saying.
I do not judge anyone, but it was a shame to see female participants left alone facing violent crowd, receiving stones and aggression. All that promised support loses its meaning when those who have more power and protection speak rather comfortably in a cozy hotel without really standing with the people and supporting them. Apparently, coordination was also bad Police failed. Orthodox Crowd, ignorant, uneducated peace of waste did their job. Those people, as I often hear to be called as ‘Georgian civil Society’ that is absolutely imaginary and abstract label to me, was absent as usual.
* School bus with school children taken to anti-IDAHO manifestation.
What will be tomorrow? When in 2009 my colleagues, allies and I were humiliated, treated in a homophobic manner by police officers, I became simply hopeless in my life. Since that time, I was trying to recover and regain hope and trust but in vain. Today, I see that I am still stuck nowhere which name is Orthodox Georgia – famous for its ‘hospitality’ and ‘tolerance’! Welcome to Georgia!
* Young girl asking everybody to give her a bottle or stone to throw towards WISG and Women’s Fund in Georgia members and feminist activists. She was really excited and happy to be part of the violent demonstration, finally!