Survey on the May 17th Events in Tbilisi

CRRC Georgia conducted a small survey among Georgian-speaking adult residents of Tbilisi regarding the May 17th events in which two demonstrations–one for the International Day Against Homophobia and another against homosexuality—ended with violent clashes between demonstrators. The fieldwork took place between May 30 and June 18. For the first time in CRRC’s history, face-to-face interviews were conducted using computer tablets instead of paper questionnaires, thus resulting in 542 completed interviews through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI).
The survey revealed interesting paradoxes among opinions of Tbilisi residents. A majority of Tbilisi residents believe that democracy is preferable to other forms of government and that major components of democracy include freedom of speech and the ability to listen to different opinions. However, different opinions turned out to be quite uneasy to handle with regard to the May 17th events.Although a majority of Tbilisi residents (90%) believe the Georgian Orthodox church should be open to everyone, 45% also believe the church should be intolerant towards sexual minorities. Similarly, 87% of Tbilisi residents say physical violence is always unacceptable, yet 50% think physical violence is acceptable towards people or groups who endanger national values. The clergy were an important part of the May 17 events. 71% of Tbilisi residents think the clergy should have gone to the May 17 demonstration, but 67% say the clergy should not have directly participated in the confrontation. Nevertheless, 57% believe the clergy who participated should not face trial.
Interestingly, 20% of Tbilisi residents blame the government for the injuries that occurred on May 17. According to the survey respondents, other responsible parties included ordinary citizens (13%), the police (9%), United National Movement (8%), and the LGBT rights NGO Identoba (6%).
When asked about what consists of the values a good citizen should have, half of Tbilisi residents said the rights of sexual minorities should never be respected. Intolerance is also evident in attitudes towards appearances. 71% of Tbilisi residents think that a man wearing earring(s) is never acceptable and 68% think the same about a woman having an eyebrow piercing.
Please visit the attached slides for interesting data about Tbilisi residents’ attitudes towards homosexuality and the May 17th demonstrations.

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