Activists across the world have rallied to support and raise funds for Tbilisi Pride in Georgia after its offices were stormed by far-right thugs this week.
Tbilisi, Georgia, was gripped by unrest Monday (5 July) when anti-LGBT+ activists, predominantly religious and male, ransacked the capital city’s Pride organisation.
The raid then poured out onto the streets, with demonstrators violently clashing with members of the public and press while police, activists claim, stood back and watched.
It was a day that shuddered fear through the deeply conservative country’s already embattled LGBT+ community, prompting Tbilisi Pride to a planned march that was to cap off a four-day weekend of events.
In the days since the attack, an international chorus of criticism has rung from the embassies of more than 15 countries as well as advocacy groups and fellow LGBT+ Pride organisations.
Many are rallying to help raise funds for the organisation and its workers, who are currently being force to use expensive hire cars and taxis to get around safely, according to a Tbilisi Pride tweet.
A crowdfunding page has also been opened on JustGiving, raising money to help Tbilisi Pride “rebuild back bigger and better”.
Bradley Wall, the 34-year-old teachers union official from Lincoln, England who started the fundraiser, told PinkNews that after watching footage of the offices being ransacked “in horror”, he “realised in this interconnected world we can all do something no matter how small to help make the world a nicer place.”
More than £1,400 has been raised at the time of writing, with a target of £2,000, or around ₾8,700
In the comments on the fundraising page are words of encouragement to the Georgians left battered and bruised: “You are heroes,” read one. “Stay visible,” another said.
Such tributes were also paid by some of the world’s leading human rights groups, Pride organisations, community leaders and even American congress members and Danish sports tournaments. They all let Tbilisi Pride’s members know they are in no way alone.
Around the world, many were left shocked by the violent destruction mounted in Tbilisi.
Footage filmed by the group’s co-founder Tamar Sozashvili showed the startling aftermath of the attack: shattered plant pots, torn up Pride flags, splattered paint on windows, ripped boxes of printing paper and lopsided tables and chairs.
It came after the powerful Orthodox Church called on supporters to gather that afternoon for a public prayer against the upcoming Pride march, which it dubbed a “grave sin“.
As nightfall came, things seemed hopeless for Tbilisi Pride. But the following day, the streets of the city were once again packed with people – but this time, thousands had gathered in a triumphant show of solidarity with the LGBT+ community.
The protesters assembled outside the Georgian Parliament building to denounce the hatred of the day before – the fight for equality, it was all too clear that evening, had not been lost.
“Sometimes we feel that nothing ever changes unless something huge happens,” Wall said.
“This isn’t always true, what we need is lots of people making small decisions to make the world a better place.
“Something a small as a few quid from lots of individual people will not only help those affected, it will inspire more people to come forward and take a stand in solidarity.
“Hopefully when COVID-19 has ended, we can all go to Tbilisi and join them in support of the parade.”