Who will be arrested?
23 May, 2013
People who care about Georgia need to come to an understanding about what happened on Friday 17 May 2013 in Tbilisi. A group of people decided to demonstrate against homophobia and a very large mob of people chased them away and in some cases beat them severely. There were many police but they were not successful in managing the crowds.

One fundamental difference between how gayness is viewed in Georgia compared with the most of Europe and North America is
in those places it is largely viewed as being something that is biological. Somebody is gay not because they chose to be but because that is just they way they are. For that reason the conversation about tolerance is largely over in the west. There are some details, for example about marriage or adoption, but the conversation about should this be tolerated has ended with "yes". But in Georgia many people believe that gay people choose to be that way and are trying to recruit new members and that there are those abroad who are trying to promote this life style. It sounds ridiculous, but there are people who believe that.

Nobody is trying to promote gayness, including gay people. They just want to be accepted as they are. But if they simply exist as they are without fear or pretense, to some people, they are pushing their life style on society. The people who believe that don't have a problem with gays specifically, those people actually have a problem with those who are different. We can easily imagine that homophobic crowd demonstrating last Friday, demonstrating against foreigners or Muslims, or really anybody who looks different. As Georgia reenters the world after its seventy year isolation on the Soviet island, it will take some time for people, particularly those not from urban areas, to get used to diversity, and the tolerance of diversity.

In Georgia to understand what is happening now, it is always wise to look back to history. I can't find any efforts back in Georgia's long history of conflict and sabotage that were made to infiltrate Georgia with gayness. In fact I don't see homosexuality as being a great influence on Georgian history. Sure there were gay people, there are in every society, but I don't see the issues as having a great influence. Violence on the other hand against groups who are different from the "norm" has been a persistent problem in Georgia. I think Georgia was a much more tolerant place centuries ago than more recently.

And this brings up the question of who are the real patriots? The homophobes were often yelling "Georgia, Georgia" but are where they really defending the homeland or where they simply out to express aggression or to try to prove something to their friends or themselves? On the other hand those who are peaceful and calm seem to me to be the real nation builders.

What worries me is how parts of the church were promoting violence. And I think parts of the demonstrators were well organized and compensated for being there somehow, I don't know by whom. But to the western press Georgia certainly looked bad. Some don't care, some don't like that, and some would be happy with that outcome. But the fact that the church, supposedly based on the teachings of Christ in the New Testament would be facilitating these attacks is cause for concern. I can't speak for you but breaking windows with stools is not the message I got from the new testament. The last time in this neighborhood an organized religion had this much influence on the street and involvement in politics is in Iran in the 1970's. Watch out.

The real question is who will be arrested and how. There is piles of evidence of law breakers on camera. Recently prosecutors have arrested many officials of the former government, some high officials. And they have not arrested those regular workers, only the top figures. Some in the international community in private would ask for leniency for these former officials. They were usually told, sometimes quite stiffly, that under this administration nobody is above the law and all would be treated equally. The test will be if some priests are arrested and sent to jail or if not only the church but every individual priest is above the law. Will the government treat the Church the same way as the National Movement when it prosecutes?