TBILISI -- Thousands of antigay activists, including Georgian Orthodox priests, marched in Tbilisi on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, And Biphobia.
The activists, some holding Orthodox Christian icons or Georgian flags, were marking the Day of Unity and Holiness of the Family -- an event established by Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II in 2014 to counter the International Day Against Homophobia.
The influential patriarch has called on authorities to ban gay-rights rallies in the South Caucasus, calling them "an insult" to Georgian traditions.
In 2013, Georgian gay-rights defenders who tried to carry out a gay-pride march in Tbilisi were severely beaten by members of antigay groups.
This year, the Unity and Holiness march was held hours after hundreds of gay-rights activists rallied in downtown Tbilisi, protected by a heavy police presence.
Although homosexual relations were decriminalized in Georgia in the 1990s, antigay sentiment runs high.
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