One week after the brutal murder of 24-year-old Spanish Nursing Student Samuel Luiz in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain, sparked wide spreads protests across the country, tensions are now rising in Georgia.

Warning: This story has details and graphic images of a homophobic attack which might be confronting and distressing to some readers. 

Protests are taking place after the body of journalist and cameraman Alexander Lashkarava, who was beaten by anti LGBTQI protestors last Monday, was found at his home on Sunday afternoon.

According to the TV Pirveli channel where Lashkarava worked, he was found dead by his mother. His colleague Miranda Baghaturia said that Lashkarava, was one of a number of journalists beaten by a homophobic mob opposed to a pride march, which was scheduled to take place on Monday in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

Local media released footage showing Lashkarava with bruises on his face and with blood pooled on the floor around him. Having undergone surgery for multiple injuries, he was discharged from hospital on Thursday. 

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The planned march was  cancelled after the Tbilisi Pride office were stormed with footage emerging online, which showed Pride flags being torn up and the premises ransacked by protesters. Organisers of the march also claimed that they were not granted adequate security protections by the authorities.

Passers-by were also caught up in the violent altercations, with the Polish Foreign Ministry confirming that a tourist from Poland had undergone treatment at the hospital after a knife attack.

Anti-LGBTQI protestors had successfully managed to block the capital’s main avenue and had accused journalists covering the protest of being pro-LGBTQI propagandists.

With a police investigation now underway, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and President Salome Zurabishvili have both described Lashkarava death as a tragedy.

Zurabishvili on Sunday posted on Twitter that she had visited Lashkarava’s family.

“What happened is a tragedy and I send my condolences to the entire media community and to all of Georgia. It must be investigated and those responsible must be punished.” Zurabishvili posted.

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Yet Garibashvili has publicly alleged that Tbilisi Pride were a “radical opposition” force that he said were led by exiled former President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is because of these words, that many who are demanding justice for Lashkarava, have also called for Garibashvili to step down from his role as president.

Tbilisi Pride have also gone so far as to claim that opponents of the planned march were supported by the government and by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Some media reported that activists had sprayed red paint on the entrance to the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Tbilisi following Lashkarava’s death.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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