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picture Statement

About 17th of May, once again

23 May 2018

WISG has been involved in organising open IDAHOT event which was planned for 17th of May this year. Hence, we share the whole responsibility regarding the event cancellation with the other co-organiser groups and activists. Despite the fact that we had detailed public announcement during the press-conference on 16th of May, it seems that for some public groups it’s still unclear what led us to this decision.

Considering all this, we think it’s necessary to evaluate the evens from the past week and reach out to those activists, who were not directly involved in the process of decision-making and who couldn’t participate in spontaneously planned May 17 events.

18 year old history of WISG makes us capable, while analysing the processes, to see the wider picture and speak based on our own difficult experiences. We are familiar with pressures from the government and violence from the Police, as well as with the attacks from aggressive group mobilised by the Church - the founders and employees of WISG were among those, who found themselves in the epicenter of the violent events of May 17th, 2013, on Vachnadze Street. Reflecting on 2013 events, showed us how much politicized the process was - on that day. The main actors that day were not us, but the government, opposition parties and the Church - fighting for redistribution of power. Celebrating IDAHOT turned into the battle of powers of above-mentioned actors.

It is unfortunate that these processes are still going on and LGBTI issues are still part of political speculation. Moreover, politically motivated persons have been for years trying to directly intervene in the May 17 planning process. Their participation, as a rule, is of destructive character and often leads to splits inside the community. Directly resulting from this are separately held protests for years, which, among the public, is perceived as a competition. In 2017, we were able to overcome this challenge and the protest, with heavy involvement of high security measures, was still carried out.

Despite the fact that in 2018, unlike the previous years, the open event was announced, we still received security guarantees from the government. However, the existing experience and the government's inconsistent policy towards LGBTI issues do not allow us to make a decision based on this alone. We always try to understand the current events and the context in which we operate.

Besides the expected threats, such as extremist informal groups, the attitude of the participants of the family purity day event towards the members of the community, the processes of the previous week of May 17th were important for us. Rallies in front of the Parliament, protesting the excessive use of force by the police, which had specific demands for the authorities, had become a basis of "ideological confrontation" between the members of the society. Even more alarming were the assessments that followed peaceful dismantling of the demonstration. For individual political actors, even today, their political agenda turned out to be more important than the lives and safety of the protesters.

It is noteworthy that despite the public statements made by us, this narrative has not changed during the May 17 assessment. Pseudo-supporters call people who have to deal with hatred and aggression everyday, “cowards”, and frame caring for each other’s safety as political blindness and immaturity. In parallel to this, the Minister of Internal Affairs called a spontaneously planned protests of LGBT activists as act of provocation.

Exactly like this, the privileged groups transfer the burden of responsibility from the abuser to the victim - on the one hand, accusing them of being cowards because they can not resist the offenders and, on the other hand, are accusing them of provoking violence. Labeling us as “cowards” and “provocators” showed their true attitudes, which were previously masked as care.

Despite the fact that, after the event was canceled, more members of the community could not be involved in spontaneous protest, some of the activists still managed to protest against these unhealthy processes. May 17, first of all, belongs to the members of the community. Neither the government nor any other politically motivated persons have the right to dictate the form and content of the action.

The main topic of this year’s May 17th was exactly the issue of political speculation. The partisan protests of the activists brought us to the results we wanted to communicate with the society: the use of this topic for own political ambitions and purposes leads to strengthening of homophobic attitudes in the society and deepening the civil confrontation. This further complicates our challenges and takes us further from the desired outcome for which we fight every day - to live in a society free from violence and aggression.