Who are right-wing forces that have attacked Georgia’s LGBTIQ +?
As citizens around the world celebrate the end of Gay Pride Month with solemn marches and parades, in Tbilisi, Georgia, organizers and activists fight for their basic right to gather.
In this former Soviet republic in the Caucasus, LGBTIQ + rights have long been a litmus test for democracy and tolerance.
Georgia failed this test on July 5 when Tbilisi Pride organizers were faced with violence from counter-demonstrators and forced to cancel the march.
The Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had accused the “radical opposition” of planning the Pride march in the correct order Sow “unrest”.
The police stood by and could not prevent the violence.
These events illustrate how LGBTIQ + advocates in hostile countries like Georgia must cross borders – at great personal risk – to create a public space that allows them to truly celebrate.
Pride marches, starting with Stonewall in 1969, have always been an evolution. Georgia’s LGBTIQ + movement is rushing headlong into this clash, but is also gaining some support in the process.
The day after the violence broke out, over 7,000 people with rainbow flags marched across the capital’s main street to the Georgian parliament. This show of solidarity with the LGBTIQ + community was bold and unprecedented.
Just a few weeks before Tbilisi Pride is the ultra-conservative Georgian activist Levan Vasadzead joined the group who organized the counter-demonstrations held a press conference at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel.
American anti-LGBT activist Brian Brown sat next to Vasadze when he announced his intention to enter Georgian politics. The moment embodies how US President Joe Biden tries to normalize US foreign policy, Trump allies continue to work to promote illiberalism abroad.
Bannon and Trump
Brown swore at the press conference to support Vasadze in the US, including from Steve Bannon, and at the same time teased the promise of support for “President Trump himself”.
Brown did all of this despite the fact that his nonprofit 501 (c) 3, the International Organization for the Family, which includes the World Family Congress, excluded from the election campaign for or against political candidates under US law. The American authorities should take action.
Brown was first in the late zeros with his. known Campaign against same-sex marriage in California and its creation of the National Organization for Marriage.
After losing the battle against same-sex marriage in the United States, he turned his attention to overseas Become president of the World Family Congress 2016.
Remarkably, Brown was chosen for this position announced while he was in Tbilisi at a WCF conference where anti-LGBT forces gathered to “build a bridgehead in the region”. In addition to his collaboration with Vasadze, Brown cultivated relations with illiberal leaders in Europe such as the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and earlier Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
The WCF was Founded in Russia in 1997 at a meeting between Allan Carlson, an American academic and former Reagan administration official, and Russian intellectuals.
WCF was named Anti-LGBTI hate group from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Brown continues to maintain ties with Russia, and after Donald Trump was elected president, he worked to unite Russian and American conservatives.
Links to the Kremlin are also shared by Levan Vasadze, who made his fortune in Russia. Alexander Dugin, a Russian ultra-nationalist widely considered the Kremlin’s chief ideologist – his Nickname is “Putin’s Brain”-is a close partner. The two met immediately after Vasadze started his political movement last month.
Vasadse’s attacks on the Georgian LGBTI community are well documented.
2019 he organized illegal gangs to dissolve the first Tbilisi Pride.
Brian Brown was in Tbilisi and joined Vasadze in front of a crowd Gathered on the steps of a church to protest the pride march. Although Vasadze was investigated by the Interior Ministry for setting up vigilante patrols, there were no consequences.
That year, Vasadze reiterated his threats to the organizers and the government to great effect. Tbilisi Pride was canceled due to violent intimidation, likely sparked by rhetoric from Vasadze and Garibashvili.
To combat this wave of repression, Georgian officials must condemn the violence and prosecute those responsible. And the US authorities must hold Americans responsible for the damage they do to democracy abroad in violation of US law and human rights.