Journalists Attacked, Hurt in Georgia at Anti-LGBT Protest

Opponents of the march shout as they block off the capital's main avenue to an LGBT march in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: Shakh Aivazov / AP

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — A protest against a planned LGBT march in the Georgian capital turned violent Monday as demonstrators attacked and injured some 20 journalists covering the event.

Organizers of the Tbilisi March For Dignity that was to take place in the evening cancelled the event, saying authorities had not provided adequate security guarantees.

Opponents of the march blocked off the capital’s main avenue, denounced journalists covering the protest as pro-LGBT propagandists and threw sticks and bottles at the media workers.

A man who the Polish foreign ministry said was a Polish tourist was stabbed several blocks from the demonstration and hospitalized; one suspect was arrested.

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Opponents of the march block off the capital’s main avenue to an LGBT march in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: Shakh Aivazov / AP

Animosity against sexual minorities is strong in the conservative Black Sea nation of Georgia, a former Soviet republic. The Tbilisi Pride group that tried to organize the march said in a statement Monday that opponents of the march were supported by the government and by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The Open Caucasus Media group published a photo of a man it said was a local TV journalist being pulled away from the demonstration in a headlock by an Orthodox priest.

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President Salome Zurabishvili condemned the violence but Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili alleged the march was organized by “radical opposition” forces that he claimed were led by exiled former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

An Opponent of the march shows an icon as others block off the capital’s main avenue to an LGBT march in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: Shakh Aivazov / AP
Georgian Orthodox priests, opponents of the march, pray as they block off the capital’s main avenue to an LGBT march in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: Shakh Aivazov / AP
People help a wounded elderly opponent of the march while they block off the capital’s main avenue to an LGBT march in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: Shakh Aivazov / AP