TBILISI/Nov. 8 (The Bulletin) — Right-wing nationalists in Georgia clashed with police outside a cinema in Tbilisi that was screening a film about a homosexual love affair.
At least one person was injured when protesters threw rocks at people queuing to watch the film at the Amirani cinema in central Tbilisi. Police dressed in riot gear arrested at least 20 people.
Eyewitnesses said that hundreds of anti-gay rights demonstrators blocked the road leading to the cinema.
“Long live Georgia!” and “Shame!” they shouted. Some demonstrators burnt a rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride. Many were holding crosses. The Orthodox Church, a powerful institution in Georgia, has denounced the film.
The Swedish-Georgian film ‘And then we danced’ documents a love affair between two male ballet dancers in Georgia’s national ballet. The film shows the difficulties of conducting a gay relationship in Georgia where conservative values are rooted into society.
Far-right supporters in Georgia have attacked Gay Pride events in Georgia previously and also targeted foreigners. Although the government and most of the population wants to join the EU, Georgia also has a reputation for sustaining a society which is suspicious of reform.
Critics of the ruling Georgian Dream government have accused it of not doing enough to clamp down in homophobic sentiment in Georgian society. It has previously been supported by the Georgian Orthodox Church and also by nationalist parties.
On his Facebook page, the film’s director, Levan Akin, wrote that these were “dark times”. “Some far right groups and the Church have basically condemned the film and are planning to stop people from entering the sold out screenings,” he wrote.
‘And then we danced’ was released in Europe May and has won numerous awards.
— This story was first published in issue 428 of the weekly Bulletin.