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Tbilisi Pride march cancelled after violent anti-LGBT demonstrations

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By Euronews
The Pride March had been planned in the centre of the city on Monday.
The Pride March had been planned in the centre of the city on Monday.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov, FILE 2017
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LGBT activists in Georgia have cancelled a Pride march in the capital Tbilisi after violent clashes ahead of the parade.

Violent groups stormed and ransacked the office of gay rights campaigners on Monday, Georgian authorities confirmed.

Activists posted photos and videos of people breaking into the premises and some journalists had reported that their equipment was broken in the attack.

After scuffles between anti-LGBT groups and the police, the organisers of the 2021 Pride said they would be cancelling the event.

"The authorities did not ensure the security of the community and our supporters," a statement on Facebook read.

"We can not go to the streets full of violent people backed by the authorities and patriarchate and put people's lives at risk."

"War was declared against civil society and democratic values."

Organisers said they had been "actively communicating" with the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs about security ahead of the march.

"The actions of the government have clearly shown that they don't want to perform its direct duty," organisers added.

"The inaction of the executive power has put the health and lives of Georgian citizens in real danger."

Campaigners also called on the international community to oppose "radical groups" and pro-Russian anti-LGBT voices in Georgia.

The country remains under the influence of the powerful Orthodox Church, which has been a vocal critic of governments deemed too progressive.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili himself had spoken out against the event, saying that holding a Pride March is "not reasonable" and would create "the threat of civil confrontation".

Organisers of the event have described the Prime Minister's comments as "shameful".

In a statement on Monday, the Georgian Interior Ministry said they had identified "various groups were gathering and protesting" in Tbilisi.

"Some individuals gathered at the protest on Rustaveli Avenue carried out violent acts towards the representatives of media and obstructed their professional activities."

"Due to the high public interest, the Ministry of Internal Affairs would like to clarify that conduct of the final event of "Tbilisi Pride" contains risks regarding the safety of persons involved in the event," they added.

Authorities said they had repeatedly called on the organisers of Pride March 2021 not to hold the event due to "the scale of counter-demonstations planned by the opposing groups".

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs primarily condemns hate speech, including any form of violence against members of the media," a second statement said.

"We call on the citizens gathered in the streets of the capital to maintain order, obey the lawful demands of the police and protest on any topic within the law."

The ministry said police would remain mobilised on the streets and that an investigation had been launched.

In a post on Facebook, the US Embassy in Tbilisi said that they support the country's government in "protecting the human rights of all citizens".

"Georgia’s Constitution and laws guarantee every citizen the right to equality and dignity and to freely develop their personality, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," the post added.

"We support the freedom of all Georgians, including the LGBT+ community, to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in a nonviolent manner."

Croatian police have already detained several people over incidents during this weekend's Pride march in the capital city, Zagreb.

Additional sources • AFP