Initial evaluation of the rally planned for the Day against Transphobia and Homophobia

The State did not manage to secure holding of the rally planned for the Day against Transphobia and Homophobia, therefore it violated the participants’ freedom of assembly and manifestation.

The strategy elaborated by the Police to ensure security of participants, was inadequate and ineffective taking into consideration the number of counter demonstrators, their uncontrolled behavior and risks.

According to the information received from our observers, counter demonstrators managed to break through the police cordon without obstacles. Police gave possibility to the group of priests (representing counter demonstrators) to enter the venue of the rally dedicated to the Day against Transphobia and Homophobia, thus it became impossible to prevent the entry of additional groups.

Counter demonstrators started moving towards the participants of the rally and managed to occupy entirely the venue designated for the demonstration. Only part of the participants managed to leave the place safely.

At this stage we can make preliminary assessment and state the following:

·      The Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to evaluate possible risks emanating from the counter demonstrators and did not manage to develop a proper security strategy. It was evident from the outset that the number of policemen present on the spot, means and actions taken against the offenders would be ineffective;

·      Policing operation was not coordinated and police was unable to defend the citizens’ freedom of expression; Impression was that the police was more focused on evacuation of rally participants rather than defending the rally. Police did not show efforts to ensure security of the participants in the process of the rally.

·     Police became totally inactive after the counter demonstrators had managed to occupy the territory, therefore the counter demonstrators were able to move freely. This increased the risk of individual abuse and retaliation, which actually took place.

The attitude of police towards the participants of the rally on the Day against Transphobia and Homophobia is extremely alarming. All observers confirm that policemen in private conversations referred to the participants in an abusive and cynical manner and to some extent were supportive of counter demonstrators. Such stance was also felt in their action.

For the time being thousands of counter demonstrators are still in the streets. They are exceptionally aggressive towards the people whom they view as the participants of the initial rally. Regrettably police activities are again inadequate and they are limited to the attempts of defusing the conflict.

Taking into consideration the above-mentioned we call upon the Ministry of the Internal Affairs to:

Take all necessary urgent measures to ensure public order and security of citizens;

Hold responsible all public officials who did not manage to anticipate all possible risks and failed to ensure the peaceful holding of the rally and security of participants;

Investigate and hold accountable all individuals who prevented citizens from conducting a rally on the Day against Transphobia and Homophobia, used violence towards persons having different opinions, abused them physically and verbally.

The observer organizations are continuing monitoring of the process and they will present final evaluation in a due course.

Transparency International – Georgia

GDI – Georgian Democracy Initiative

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre – EMC

Georgia Young Lawyers Association

Article 42 of the Constitution

International Society for fair elections and Democracy (ISFED)