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Georgia: Where Does the Church End and the State Begin?

Priests and members of the Orthodox church gather on the steps of the former Georgian parliament in Tbilisi to stop a rally organized by LGBT activists. (Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

In the aftermath of the May 17 mob rampage against gay-rights activists in Tbilisi, public discussion in Tbilisi is focusing on church-state issues, especially the question of whether the Georgian Orthodox Church operates beyond the reach of civil law.

Priests played an instrumental role in mobilizing counter-demonstrators, and then pushing with them through police barricades to prevent a handful of LGBT activists and supporters from exercising their constitutional right to assembly. Dozens were injured in the chaos that ensued.

Several non-governmental organizations have lambasted law enforcement officers for failing to ensure security for the anti-homophobia rally, and have alleged instances of police prejudice in favor of the priests and other protesters – criticism not shared by the government.

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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to Eurasianet'sTamada Tales blog.

Georgia: Where Does the Church End and the State Begin?

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