Why Did Georgia’s Police Raid This National LGBT Group?


Georgia, the Russia-adjacent country, decriminalized homosexuality in 2000, theoretically allowing letting gay families to live openly (just without any of those bothersome health benefits). But without full equality under the law, it’s as important as ever to have groups like the Inclusive Foundation, a safe space for LGBT Georgians — which was raided by police this month in a warrant-less search filled with anti-gay taunts, and ending with the arrest of the group’s leader Paata Sabelashvili (pictured).

Reads in part a post on the group’s website:

On December 15 2009 the office of the Inclusive Foundation, a well known Georgian LGBT organisation, was raided by the police. They did not wear police uniforms, did not provide a search warrant, did not inform about their identity or agency they represented and did not explain the purpose of their intrusion. Members of the LGBT community were present in the office during the raid for a regular meeting of the “Women’s Club”. The men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks, such as ‘perverts’, ‘sick persons’, Satanists. They threatened to take photos of the women and disseminate them to reveal their sexual orientation. They also threatened ‘to kill’ and ‘tear to pieces’ one of the leaders of the organisation, Eka Agdgomelashvili, if she did not stop demanding the search warrant and identification documents of the police.

Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization, was arrested as a result of the raid. Soon after arrest he confessed to the possession of 8 grams of marijuana. However, because he made the confession before seeing his lawyer, without the presence of anyone except law enforcement officials, the validity and voluntary character of the confession is highly suspicious.

Staff members of the organization are under continuous surveillance up till now. Their homes, movement in the city and office are under constant surveillance by cars full of men without uniform. One such car is permanently stationed outside the entrance to the house of one of the staff members.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has promised to register complaints; the Inclusive Foundation has filed its own appeal to Georgia’s government.

The motivation behind the raid remains unclear.