Priests lead Orthodox anti-gays in violent Tbilisi clashes with rights activists, police (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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Thousands Orthodox anti-gay activists broke through police cordon and pursued gay rights protesters in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, injuring at least 17 people in the process. The violent brawl marred the May 17 International Day Against Homophobia.

The first sanctioned anti-homophobic rally in Georgia organized
by Identity NGO activists had to be moved to a public garden on
Tbilisi’s Freedom Square after a 10,000-strong Orthodox crowd
gathered at the initial rally spot on Friday.

Orthodox Christian activists march before clashes with gay rights activists at an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. (Reuters)

But heavy police cordons failed to contain furious anti-gay
activists led by priests, who rushed to the new gay parade
location. Upon breaking into the public garden, the agitated crowd
engaged in a violent pursuit, beating and throwing stones at all
the people who were thought to be representing and advocating for
the minorities.

At least 17 people were injured in clashes, and 12 of them
hospitalized, Georgian Rustavi 2 TV reported. A journalist and a
passer-by were among the injured.

The police and special task forces managed to evacuate the rally
participants using minibuses, but several vehicles were attacked in
the process. Counter-demonstrators blocked the way and smashed the
windows of a yellow van, in which minorities were thought to be
carried.

Georgian ombudsman Uchya Nanusahvili was also compelled to leave
the scene guarded by a dozen police after trying to persuade the
Orthodox believers not to obstruct the gay rally, according to
Interfax. The angry crowd responded to the rights commissioner plea
by shouting insults.

Policemen try to stop an Orthodox Christian activist during clashes with gay rights activists at an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. (Reuters)

Orthodox Christian activists run during clashes with gay rights activists at an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. (Reuters)

A policeman helps an injured man during clashes at an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. (Reuters)

Georgian Orthodox believers and anti-gay activists clash with police officers as they demonstrate in the capital Tbilisi, on May 17, 2013, to protest against gay rights activists' plans to stage a rally marking the International Day against Homophobia. (AFP Photo)

This article originally appeared on : RT