Georgians attend a rally to protest against LGBT community activities in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Monday. Organizers cancelled the event after massive and violent protests against LGBT community in the Georgian capital. Photo by Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA-EFE
July 5 (UPI) -- Violent anti-LGBT demonstrations led to the cancellation of the Pride March in the Georgian capital Tbilisi Monday, organizers said.
After the violent attacks between anti-LGBT groups and police, organizers of the Pride March announced the event was cancelled.
"We would like to state that the #PrideMarch will not take place today. The authorities did not ensure the security of the community and our supporters. We can not go to the streets full of violent people backed by the authorities and patriarchate and put people's lives at risk!" Tbilisi Pride said on Twitter.
The Pride March was to be the first event of its kind to be held in the region.
The attacks were undertaken by violent anti-LGBT and religious groups and were aimed at the offices of gay rights activists and journalists, witnesses said.
They came following statements by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili who said the march was "unacceptable for a large segment of Georgian society."
Violent homophobic groups were captured on video and in photos storming the offices of LGBTQ activists and attacking those involved in the planning as well as journalists covering the events, which were scheduled to run from July 1-5 and to culminate in the Pride March.
In all, 15 journalists set to cover the Tbilisi Pride March were attacked in the mayhem.
"The Ministry of Internal Affairs primarily condemns hate speech, including any form of violence against members of the media," the government said in an issued statement.
LGBTQ activists in Georgia face opposition from political authorities and the Orthodox Church.
Videos and photos of the attacks immediately appeared on Twitter. In one of the photos, journalist Rati Tsvevara is shown being beaten and dragged by a priest.
The U.S. Embassy expressed its support on Facebook, noting that the entire Georgian people, including the LGBTQ community, should be free to exercise their rights to free expression and non-violent assembly.
German lawmaker Michael Roth publicly expressed his support for the LGBTQ community and the British Embassy in Tbilisi issued a statement calling on the Georgian authorities to stop the violence.