LGBT

Georgia: Court set for judgement on International Day against Homophobia parade human rights row

Members of a Georgian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group hope judges will support their human rights complaint against national authorities in a European court ruling next week.

Strasbourg judges will make known their decision in the case Identoba and Others v. Georgia (no. 73235/12) on 12 May.

The applicants are Identoba, a non-governmental organisation set up to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Georgia, and 14 Georgian nationals who were born between 1959 and 1992 respectively and live in Tbilisi.

The case concerns a peaceful demonstration on 17 May 2012 in Tbilisi to mark the International Day against Homophobia, which was organised by Identoba and attended by approximately 30 people, including 13 of the individual applicants. During the event, demonstrators were threatened by counter-demonstrators – members of two religious groups – who outnumbered them.

The counterdemonstrators, shouting insults at the marchers – calling them among other things “perverts” and “sinners” – blocked their passage and encircled them.

Eventually the counter-demonstrators attacked several of the applicants physically, leaving at least three of them with injuries – haematoma, a closed head trauma, and contusions – which required treatment.

According to the applicants, the police remained relatively passive in the face of the violence. In particular, several police officers at the scene, when asked for help by the marchers, replied that they were not part of the police patrol and it was not their duty to intervene. Four of the applicants were arrested and briefly detained and/or driven around in a police car.

According to the government, these measures were taken to protect them from the counter-demonstrators.

Following the events, between May and July 2012, Identoba and 13 of the individual applicants filed several criminal complaints, requesting in particular that criminal investigations be launched into the attacks against them by the counter-demonstrators which had been perpetrated with discriminatory intent, and into the acts and omissions of the police officers who had failed to protect them from those assaults.

Two investigations into the injuries sustained by two of the applicants were opened in May and October 2012 respectively, which remain pending.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) taken in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention, 13 of the applicants complain that the Georgian authorities failed to protect them from the violent attacks of the counter-demonstrators and to effectively investigate the incident by establishing, in particular, the discriminatory motive behind the attacks.

Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) in conjunction with Article 14,Identoba and those 13 individual applicants further complain that they have been unable to proceed with their peaceful march owing to the assaults and the inaction of the police.

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