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ADDED ON: 07/09/2021

Violence in the name of God

07/09/2021 | New Europe

On July 5, Georgian far-right activists dispersed the planned Tbilisi Pride week by physically attacking more than 50 people, of which 53 were members of the local and international media. The anti-gay crowd also stormed the offices of Georgia’s LGBT rights organization and the civil movement Shame – all of which was done in the name of God. In the post-Soviet country, where 83.4% of the population are Orthodox Christians, the counter-rally against Tbilisi Pride and hate-crime motivated actions were not only supported, but also incited by, some Georgian Orthodox Church clerics. One of the Deacons of the Orthodox Church, Father Spyridon, openly called on the demonstrators to use violence. “Do not say no to violence. Use violence for your homeland, your God, and purity,” Spyridon shouted from the stage on July 5 during a counter rally. Spyridon had earlier called for even more radical forms of violence prior to the events of July 5, saying, “The Georgian Nation has to unite for protecting the teachings of Christ and morality…On the 5th of July, we should break the bones of Sodom’s supporters and smash them. After you have done so, you can come to us, the Church.” Georgia’s frail 88-year-old patriarch, Ilia II, released a statement before Pride week, saying the event “violates the rights of most of Georgian society, its freedoms, and choices.” The Church addressed 30 MEPs, who earlier expressed support for the freedom of expression of the LGBT community in Georgia, to abstain from encouraging Tbilisi Pride and called on the Georgian Government to avoid unrest in the society.

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