Hundreds of gay rights protesters swarmed an LGBT festival in Georgia’s capital, vandalizing the stage, setting fires and looting the event’s bar.
TBILISI, Georgia — Hundreds of gay rights protesters stormed an LGBT festival in Georgia’s capital on Saturday, vandalizing the stage, setting fires and looting the event’s bar.
Tbilisi Pride Fest participants were safely evacuated from the scene, Georgia’s Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandre Tarakvelitze said. The organizers of the festival have asked people not to come to the lakeside park where the event will take place.
Georgian news media estimated that around 5,000 people marched to the site. Many of them waved Georgian flags and carried religious symbols.
Hostility toward sexual minorities is strong in Georgia, mainly Orthodox Christians, and some previous LGBT events have been met with violent disruption.
Tarakvelitze said police tried to stop the protesters but were unable to stop all of them.
But event organizers criticized the police for being ineffective, saying in a statement: “The police did not block the access road to the festival venue in order to stop an occupying group. The police did not use disproportionate force against the attackers.