Matthew Hays's picture

8 Arrested In Riots Over Georgian Soccer Player's LGBT Armband

On Sunday, Georgian soccer player wore a rainbow armband in support of LGBT rights when he played for his Dutch soccer club. It was part of the Netherland's larger "Coming Out Day" initiative and to stand up for LGBT rights.

Guram Kashia also plays for the Georgian National team. What was the reaction at home to the simple colorful armband? Rioters in his home country protested outside the Georgian Soccer Federation in Tbilisi, demanding Kashia be removed from the team. Demonstrators shouted homophobic epithets, lighted flares and smoke bombs. Eight people were arrested on accounts of resisting police and minor hooliganisms. 

In response, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, said, "Everyone has the right for freedom of expression. We should respect human rights and liberties. I stand with the unanimous support that sporting society has expressed toward Guram Kashia."

Kashia himself has told reporters in the Netherlands, he is happy to support LGBT rights and has no desire to stop playing for the Georgian National Team either.