Report: Police Exonerated in Tbilisi Pride Festival Incident According to Public Defender’s 2023 Equality Report

Tbilisi, Georgia – The Public Defender’s 2023 Equality Report clears the police of any blame for the failure to protect the Tbilisi Pride Festival from a violent mob on July 8, 2023. According to the report, the rapid growth in the number of far-right supporters at the festival site and the large size of the area made it challenging for law enforcement to intervene effectively.

The report emphasizes that the responsibility of safeguarding the LGBT+ community and preventing violence and discrimination surpasses the capabilities of the police alone and requires a multi-agency approach involving the public. The events of July 8 highlighted the insufficiency of police forces in managing such large-scale situations, as highlighted in the report.

Ultra-conservative groups gathered in the morning on Vazha Pshavela Avenue on July 8, 2023, where they issued threats to disrupt the planned festival site located kilometers away. As tensions escalated at Lisi Lake, the police, who were present to maintain peace at the Pride celebration, failed to provide adequate security. The organizers of the festival, Tbilisi Pride, accused the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of coordinating the mob’s violent actions. The Human Rights Center criticized the state for its inability to protect festival participants.

The report also delves into the police’s lack of action on that day, citing a letter from the Ministry of Internal Affairs explaining the limitations of using specific equipment to control the situation effectively. Furthermore, the report highlights ongoing challenges faced by the LGBT+ community in Georgia, including violence, discrimination, and harassment driven by societal prejudices.

In the broader scope of government policy, the report notes a lack of significant progress in improving the rights of LGBT+ individuals. It specifically mentions the exclusion of LGBT+ rights from the National Human Rights Strategy 2024-2026 as a concerning factor.

The Public Defender’s report, titled “Combating and Preventing Discrimination and the Situation of Equality,” released on April 22, also addresses issues faced by other vulnerable groups in Georgia, including women, persons with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities. The report outlines the Public Defender’s efforts to protect equality across various segments of society.

In conclusion, the report raises awareness about discrimination, challenges in labor relations, incitement to discrimination, and investigations of hate crimes in Georgia. It highlights the need for comprehensive measures to combat discrimination and promote equality across all sectors of society.