Wednesday, 1 September 2010

In Georgia, gay men are trying to get out of the underground

Flag of GeorgiaImage by Gaeser via FlickrSource: BBC Russia

By Nina Akhmeteli

[Google translation]

In Georgia, the scandal flared up the possibility of holding a gay pride parade in Batumi, the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.

Such a procession in the country where the majority does not hide his contempt for members of sexual minorities, causes concern even among liberals.

Although that has not yet made any official statements either from the authorities or by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the Georgian media has been discussing the possibility of such a procession. The guardians of the Georgian tradition and morality threaten to disrupt this event.

18-year-old Achiko proudly says that he would do if the streets of Batumi to hold a march, members of sexual minorities. "If they dare to do so, they must be dissolved, this is a disgrace to Georgia, such people should not exist in our country!" - Says Achiko.

In hot speeches Achiko heard no objections to low red-haired friend: "Let him be, if they exist, but for themselves."
In Georgia, where the Orthodox Church uses the trustworthiness and credibility of the majority, were not just members of sexual minorities, but also any statements in defense of their rights is often perceived as a confrontation between tradition and the church.

One critic of the Georgian leadership directed by Goga Khaindrava in an interview with the Russian Service BBC said that preparations for the parade is already in full swing and the event is an initiative of the Georgian government.

Khaindrava sure that the parade - part of a campaign against the Georgian Orthodox Church and tradition.

"The goal is to break this absolutely rock-solid part of the Georgian mentality and Georgian identity - Christian morality. Against it is the explicit overt assault from the government, whose mission to break the Christian morality in Georgian society," - said Khaindrava.

According to him, the sister of the new minister of economy and sustainable development of Georgia Nina Kobalia on one of the websites have openly invites gays from different countries to Georgia.

However, the Russian Service BBC Head of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Adjara Temuri Diasamidze said that he knew nothing about such an event in Batumi. Herself, Mrs. Nina Kobalia, a freelancer for the department and an expert on public relations, also denied any involvement in the organization of the alleged activities are planned.

"I'm not saying that the gay parade in Georgia - this is bad or unacceptable, but I did not know about it and do not have to do with it" - said Kobalia Russian service Bi-bi-si.

Khaindrava believes that the goal of the gay pride parade - to break the traditional morality of Georgia

Paata Sabelashvili - Head of Fund "Inclusive", the first and one of the few organizations dealing with the rights of sexual minorities. He believes that the fuss raised about the alleged upcoming parade - is another ineptly used by politicians gossip.

"The gay pride parade is not an end in itself, the gay parade is a method to achieve the goal - to attract public attention to the problems of people who can not be solved in the country - said Sabelashvili. - The main recipient of the gay pride parade - it is power. Hold the parade secret, with their support - it's just amazingly, this never happens. "

Psychologist and expert on gender issues Nana Berekashvili believes that the gay parade in Georgia could lead to negative consequences. But issue of sexual minorities and their rights requires a broader discussion.

"I think it is a gay parade, and a more organized and educational campaign in support of gay rights could justify myself. This topic is in Georgia there are only at the level of private conversations, where everyone who felt like using definition of gay as the most derogatory and degrading" .

According Berekashvili, most readily in Georgia expresses its contempt for members of sexual minorities, and the idea of population growth, as advocated by the church and state, fueling opposition to sexual minorities.

"Firstly, it wont komformizm - do and say as a majority, as adopted, - said Berekashvili .- So most simply joins the general view:" People should not exist, it is a sin, it's depravity and distortion target nation. "

Three years ago, is preparing to campaign "All different - all equal!" was also abolished after the declarations that this event actually was an attempt for the first gay pride parade in Georgia.

Patriarchate of Georgia and then made a statement that the event could cause a physical confrontation, because the public has a negative attitude towards him.

Homosexuality was considered legal in Georgia ten years ago, but the majority of members of sexual minorities continue to live in hiding, "said Sabelashvili. Those who dare to openly declare their sexual orientation becomes an object of ridicule and aggression.

"You branded as a stranger, as an outcast. Your place - in a bathroom or somewhere else, if only you did not show up. When you can not see - you do not have it when you see - you're the problem" - says Sabelashvili.

Today, sitting in a small café in downtown Tbilisi, 37-year-old Nick is already open, and even with a smile, tells about his childhood. The only thing that resembles today that, through what he had to go through - a lot of scars on whitening tanned hands.

"I have often tried to commit suicide. Just tired of fighting, tired of constantly prove that I'm not patient," - said Nick.

For a fairly conservative family Tbilisi Nick - daughter, which failed to heal and save. Initially treated for "men's habits, tried punishments - beatings and tying the piano for hours, then taken to the doctor and even decided to marry. But the problems do not end and beyond the threshold of the house.

"In the first place - this is a problem with the work. Today I am working with a friend, he knows everything about me, because I there are no problems, - said Nick, - but before that I worked with the police about 5-7 years. When the chief learned about me, he demanded his resignation. However, they thought I was a lesbian, they do not even know for sure that such a transsexual. "

According to Sabelashvili, Nike is not an exception. Almost all members of sexual minorities face challenges not only on the street, but also by their relatives, as soon becomes evident how they differ from the majority.

"If this is a minor, his attempt to" save "- lead to psychiatrists, and so forth, but when he came of age it is often simply thrown out, - said Sabelashvili .- And as in Georgia, people are starting an independent life later than in the West, they actually adrift.

For 26 years, Heraclius (name changed) hides from his family that he was gay. According to him, is his secret opening which he risks losing everything in his life.

"Maybe someday the time will come when I can open up and not feel embarrassed themselves - said Irakli. - But today, I'm sure it will be a blow and a disgrace to my family, so it's better to leave everything as is."

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