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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
'Gay' rally in Georgia cancelled
By Matthew Collin
BBC News, Tbilisi

Ilya II, Head of the Georgian Church
Patriarch Ilya says gay rallies are offensive
An event promoting tolerance and cultural dialogue in Georgia has been cancelled, after rumours spread that it was in fact a gay parade.

The highly influential head of the Georgian Orthodox church spoke out against the event.

Organisers told the BBC they feared that the participants could have been attacked if it went ahead.

Gays have come under attack in former Soviet republics, with the Orthodox Church one of their main critics.

Since false rumours spread that the planned event was a demonstration for homosexual rights, the organisers say they have received large numbers of abusive telephone calls and emails, some making threats of physical violence.

Anti-gay feelings

The event was to have been held in the Georgian capital next week as part of a Europe-wide campaign against intolerance, called "all different, all equal".

But it was cancelled on Tuesday amid fears for the safety of the young people taking part. The organisers, a human rights organisation called Century 21, say they are victims of what they describe as disinformation and lies broadcast by Georgian television channels.

The head of the Georgian Orthodox church had also warned that any rally involving sexual minorities would cause widespread offence and possibly lead to physical confrontation.

Georgia is a highly religious country which prides itself on its traditional Christian values.

Although homosexuality is legal, it is widely regarded as immoral. Gay rights activists in Georgia say homosexuals are often the targets for abuse and physical violence.


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