Georgian Orthodox Church Will Wed 400 Straight Couples On International Day Against Homophobia

In past years, priests from the anti-gay denomination have led violent protests against LGBT demonstrators.

The Georgian Orthodox Church is protesting International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) by holding a mass wedding of 400 heterosexual couples. The church, a vehemently anti-gay denomination with 3.5 million members worldwide, previously declared May 17 "Family Purity Day."

Organized by the reactionary group Patriarchate’s Chokhosnebi, the mass wedding is just the latest assault on the annual remembrance: In 2012, Orthodox priests led an attack against the first IDAHOT demonstration in Tbilisi. A small group of pro-LGBT activists, several of whom were injured, had to be led away by police in a bus.

An IDAHOT rally the following year was also attacked by counter-demonstrators led by Georgian Orthodox priests. Protestors carried images of Jesus and signs reading "Stop promoting homosexual propaganda in Georgia" and "We don't need Sodom and Gomorrah." Observers reported police allowed Orthodox clergymen and other protestors to enter the barricaded area.


Georgian Orthodox believers and anti-gay activists clash with police officers as they demonstrate in the capital Tbilisi, on May 17, 2013, to protest against gay rights activists' plans to stage a rally marking the International Day against Homophobia. Homosexuality is still highly stigmatised in Georgia, a deeply socially conservative ex-Soviet state in the Caucasus where the Orthodox Church retains immense clout. AFP PHOTO /IRAKLI GEDENIDZE (Photo credit should read IRAKLI GEDENIDZE/AFP/Getty Images)

OC Media reports that an LGBT group called Equality Movement is organizing another IDAHOT demonstration in Tbilisi this year. The group is calling on Georgians to remember "the disastrous consequences of hate and aggression."

While LGBT people are protected by Georgia's anti-discrimination laws, they still face harassment, discrimination and violence. A constitutional amendment signed last year defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. According to 2011 poll, homosexuals are one of the most reviled groups in Georgia, with 91.5% of Georgians saying homosexuality is "completely unacceptable". Most respondents said they'd prefer to work with an alcoholic than a gay person.

In 2017, Georgian football player Guram Kashia was condemned for wearing a rainbow armband during National Coming Out Day. Dozens gathered outside the Georgian Football Federation headquarters, shouting anti-gay slogans and burning a rainbow flag.

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