The Georgian Orthodox Church called on the authorities on August 20 not to allow holding of gay parade - an event, which is only rumored to be planned, but no sign has so far emerged that would indicate on its validity.
”There are rumors according to which a gay parade is intended to be held either in Tbilisi or Batumi,” the Georgian Patriarchate said in a statement. "We request the authorities not to let public march of Sodomites or a Gomorrahns so that to prevent it from becoming cause of a terrible sin, the society's indignation and unrest."
Rumors that gay parade is planned first emerged on Georgian internet forums three months ago. The issue was then discussed by ex-state minister and now opposition figure Giorgi Khaindrava in one of his interviews with the Georgian press in June; he again spoke on the issue earlier this month saying that authorities were promoting an idea of holding gay parade in late August, adding that by doing so the authorities aimed at "destroying major Georgian values". The issue briefly featured in the campaign for Tbilisi mayoral office ahead of the May 31 local elections, when then candidates Zviad Dzidziguri, leader of Conservative Party and Gogi Topadze, leader of Industrialists Party, spoke out against alleged plans. Rumors further intensified in recent weeks and it has been extensively discussed on internet forums and social networkings sites.
But neither authorities nor any other organization or a group, including the one working on gay rights issues in Georgia have confirmed intention to hold the event or knowing about someone having such plan.
In July, 2007 an outdoor event - All Different, All Equal - dedicated to tolerance was canceled for fear of violence after it was labelled by some as a gay parade. At that time the Georgian Orthodox Church warned that any participation by sexual minorities in the event would have led to clashes.
In the statement on August 20, the Georgian Orthodox Church said: "It is unimaginable and totally unacceptable to portray homosexuality as an acceptable form - which thier public march amounts to - in the country with 2,000 years of Christianity."
"Despite 70 years of harmful influence of the Communist regime, the large part of our society (regardless of their confession) is a firm defender of moral values, hence a parade by homosexuals will naturally trigger [the society's] sharp reaction, which may grow into sharp confrontation."
In this section, an initial version of the Patriarchate's statement featured the following wording: "Despite a harmful influence of atheist regime...". Later the wording was changed into: "Despite 70 years of harmful influence of the Communist regime...".
"We are obliged to once again warn those promoting human's moral degradation and especially those [in favor of] legalization of homosexuality, lesbianism and other voluptuous manifestations, that they will bring God's punishment on themselves, which will be transfered to the nation as well," the Georgian Orthodox Church said.