Dozens of gay rights supporters rallied for a second day in the Georgian capital Friday after being attacked by Orthodox Christians during their initial march in the deeply religious Caucasus state.
Around 60 young activists assembled on the steps of the parliament building in the overtly Christian ex-Soviet nation holding banners with slogans such as “Stop hate crimes” and “No to religious extremists”.
A day earlier, gay rights demonstrators held a rare march and were attacked by a group of Orthodox priests and their supporters, who shouted abuse and threw punches at some participants.
Supporters said they gathered again Friday in reaction to the violence, with one person holding up a hand-made drawing of Christ with the words “Jesus is love”.
“They can do what they like, but we’re not going away. We’re here, we’re out and we’re proud,” one of the participants, Natia Gvianishvili, told AFP.
On Friday, a few passers-by screamed anti-gay abuse but police moved in quickly to drag away a man who tried to assault the protesters, while priests ushered others who wanted to remonstrate with the activists into a nearby church.
The Orthodox Church wields huge influence in Georgia, a socially conservative Caucasus state of some 4.6 million people.
Homosexuality is widely considered unacceptable and public statements in support of gay rights are rare.
[Gay rights activist rally in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, on May 17. AFP Photo/Vano Shlamov]