Magazine article New Internationalist

Church on the Rampage

Magazine article New Internationalist

Church on the Rampage

Article excerpt

Recent events in Georgian capital Tbilisi are alarming many who hoped progressive views might win out over more intolerant, traditional values.

The clash of ideals was starkly evident at an event to mark the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which was disrupted by up to 20,000 counter-demonstrators in May.

Despite a statement by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that lesbians and gays 'have the same rights as any other social group', Patriarch Ilia II, the spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, called for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) event to be banned, branding homosexuality 'an anomaly and a disease'.

The confrontation descended into violence when the 50 LGBT activists at the IDAHO event were forced to flee after the Orthodox crowd broke through barriers, meeting little or no police resistance.

In a scene akin to a medieval witch-hunt, elderly women holding stinging nettles sought to thrash homosexuals, and priests wielded wooden stools to beat and smash anyone or anything they could find. …

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