(I wrote this in an expat discussion forum. Reposting here for permalink status.)
The WHO defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”
I think it is incontrovertible that violence is being done to Georgia’s LGBTQ population. For example, in the cancelling of this year’s IDAHOTB demonstration, we can clearly see that threatened physical force, in concert with past actual physical force, has intimidated Georgia’s LGBTQ rights advocates to the point where they have been functionally deprived of their human rights to freedom of speech and assembly. We have seen LGBTQ Georgians beaten, chased from the public square, and even killed.
The question is, who is participating in this violence? It is easy to blame the men who throw the stones (or swing the stools). But what about those who lead them – physically and spiritually? If Ilia II calls gays “diseased” and says they have no right to protest, and black-robed priests lead a march of thousands to lynch a small group of at most a few dozen demonstrators, injuring 28, and then Ilia later condemns the violence, what are we to believe? Does anyone really have any doubt about what his role was in the violence?
In commemorating that date as Family Purity Day, the Church is doing additional harm to Georgia’s queer community and individuals. It is a clear and transparent move to deprive Georgia’s LGBTQ movement of its international connections and to ensure a ready group of demonstrators each year to once again drive this movement underground. It also clearly communicates that LGBTQ individuals have no role in the family – that they are “impure.” If this is not psychological violence, I don’t know what is.
How can any honest person fail to see the harm done to Georgia’s LGBTQ population by the celebration of Family Purity Day? The psychological harm. The removal of human rights. The threat – the highly credible threat – of physical harm to anyone who dares to show up and ask society to stop bullying, ostracizing, beating, and ultimately murdering LGBTQ human beings?
Any defense at all of Family Purity Day is not just a defense of that violence – it is a continuation of that violence. It is a message to LGBTQ Georgians that their voices and their lives do not matter, that the injured and dead Georgians who just wanted to live their lives like anyone else deserve to be erased from history.
People will call me names, will say I am full of hatred, will equate writing this post with the murder of human beings – those are silencing tactics, and they are hurtful. They are ways of discrediting and disregarding the voices of oppressed minorities. They have been used against every group ever to advocate for civil rights. Do not be fooled.
If you are against violence, you are against Family Purity Day. If you are not against Family Purity Day, you are not against violence. And you are entitled to your opinion, but be aware that expressing the opinion that Family Purity Day is anything other than an ongoing persecution of an extremely vulnerable Georgian minority is hurtful, and people will get hurt by it. Some will post vomit emojis, some will walk away and say nothing, and some will write multiple 600-word essays in response. But the inescapable fact is that if you support this travesty in any way you are causing real pain to real people.