17 May is marked as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). The day is celebrated in many ways in EU countries and in other parts of the world. In Europe attitudes towards the LGBTI community have changed dramatically over the years. 71% of EU citizens agree that LGBTI people should have the same rights as heterosexual people, according to a study by the European Fundamental Rights Agency (2013). The rainbow colours of the gay movement were reflected on the building of the European Commission in Brussels to mark the day. EU embassies in many countries on 17 May also fly the rainbow flag.
This helps highlight serious issues of discrimination against the gay community in the Caucasus, Eurasia and beyond, where the sexual minorities are still subject to all sorts of harrassment and descrimination.
This year once more has seen despicable scenes in Tbilisi where far right groups threathened to disrupt an IDAHO event which was eventually cancelled by the organisers to avoid possible violence.
The Georgian government, and more widely Georgian society need to be more assertive in ensuring the rights of sexual minorities, and the international community must keep this issue high up in its agenda with Georgia. Georgian law enforcers must also act swiftly and decisively in dealing with far right extremists who are clearly using the threat of violence to suffocate free speech and the right for peaceful protest.
Discrimination is wrong! Diversity should be celebrated, not attacked!
This editorial was prepared by the editorial team of commonspace.eu and reflects the policy of this website.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella, currently on a tour of the South Caucasus, on Tuesday (17 July) addressed students at Tbilisi State University about his vision for Europe's future.