In the aftermath of the May 17 mob rampage against gay-rights activists in Tbilisi, public discussion in Tbilisi is focusing on church-state issues, especially the question of whether the Georgian Orthodox Church operates beyond the reach of civil law.
Priests played an instrumental role in mobilizing counter-demonstrators, and then pushing with them through police barricades to prevent a handful of LGBT activists and supporters from exercising their constitutional right to assembly. Dozens were injured in the chaos that ensued.
Several non-governmental organizations have lambasted law enforcement officers for failing to ensure security for the anti-homophobia rally, and have alleged instances of police prejudice in favor of the priests and other protesters – criticism not shared by the government.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to Eurasianet'sTamada Tales blog.