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Anti-Gay Rioters Shut Down March Against Homophobia In Georgia

An Orthodox church leader asked city officials to cancel the march, but when it wasn't, anti-gay protestors took matters into their own hands

Posted on May 18, 2013, at 4:05 p.m. ET

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Protestors attack a van being used to evacuate people.

A march against homophobia in Tbilisi, Georgia, ended when thousands of anti-gay protestors overpowered police Friday. Police were protecting a few dozen individuals who were participating in the march in Tbilisi's Freedom Square, but later evacuated them when the anti-gay protestors, some who had begun assembling Thursday, attacked, according to the Institute for War & Peace Reporter. Dozens were injured, including reporters and police officers.

The head of Georgia's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, had said in a statement city officials should ban the march against homophobia, saying it would be "an insult" to Georgian tradition and calling homosexuality and "anomaly and disease." Orthodox priests were among the anti-gay protestors.

"It's very hard to watch members of the priesthood taking part and unashamedly allowing children to take part in their violence," Chiora Taktakishvili, a member of parliament, said.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili had pledged to protect the march, providing 2,000 police officers, and later condemned the attacks "The right to gather peacefully and to freely express one's opinion is fundamental to our democracy," he said.

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