Russia Insider, a pro-Russian and anti-Semitic propaganda site, published a post on Thursday by global anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown defending anti-gay activists in the country of Georgia who are trying to shut down a Pride celebration in the nation’s capital Tbilisi this week. The post is accompanied by an anti-Semitic cartoon, which is not the first time Russia Insider has promoted anti-Semitism.
In fact, Russia Insider is notorious for being too racist to be endorsed by other pro-Russia propaganda websites. In 2018, Russian media outlet RT denounced Russia Insider’s lead voice Charles Bausman and said Bausman was no longer welcome to appear on their network. Russia Insider currently has an entire website section dedicated to the “Jewish Question,” referring to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory asserting the Jews combine their money and influence to seek to undermine and destroy the world to their advantage.
The Russia Insider post mirrors the message contained in an email Brown sent to supporters of his International Organization for the Family on Thursday. Right Wing Watch left phone and email messages with a Brian Brown media contact on Friday morning asking whether Brown or the IOF had given Russia Insider permission to publish his piece. We will update this post if we get an answer.
Brown’s email and the Russia Insider post asked people to sign a petition to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo complaining that the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi “is the main sponsor of so-called ‘pride week’” and urging that they direct U.S. embassy personnel in Georgia and around the world “to cease advocating for a highly-controversial, deeply-troubling political agenda pushed by LGBT activists.”
In his email, Brown praised his “good friend” Levan Vasadze for “leading the charge to stop the LGBT movement’s attempt to undermine family and faith in the Republic of Georgia.” He also praised the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilya II, as “a kind and holy man” who “has made clear that Georgian Christians will not be silent while their Christian roots are undermined and attacked.”
Brown charged that the mainstream media has tried to smear Vasadze and Georgian Christians as supporters of hatred and violence. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Brown claimed in his email.
Actually, the truth is quite clear. In 2013, Orthodox priests led a violent mob attack on a small group of people attempting to hold a Pride celebration; Ilya distanced himself from the violence, but also called the gay rights rally a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians. The 2016 World Congress of Families global summit, which Vasadze hosted in Tbilisi, was timed to coincide with the anniversary of that violent silencing of LGBTQ activists.
In the week before the summit, a quote from Vasadze was featured on the WCF home page: “The West is attacking our Christian culture with atheism, new forms of socialism and sexual radicalism—worse than what we saw during the last 25 years when we were part of the Soviet empire. This is why we need you to come to Tbilisi and work with us.”
Brown’s recent email and the Russia Insider post linked to a Wednesday segment on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “Newswatch” program that featured an interview with Vasadze. CBN anchor George Thomas introduced the segment by saying that Georgia, “one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, has been fighting an aggressive gay and lesbian agenda for years, largely funded by liberal groups in the United States and Europe.”
The CBN segment includes a clip of Vasadze telling a gathering in the streets, “Sin is something to be ashamed of. And we will not allow normalization, glorification and celebration of sin. This is not our way.” Thomas introduced an interview by saying that Vasadze as playing “a vital role in pushing back against the LGBTQ agenda in Georgia.”
Vasadze portrayed the LGBTQ movement as part of the “ugly heritage” of the “liberal domination” that “befell upon the world” after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Georgians had hoped to embrace western freedoms, he said, but instead the country is being destroyed by poverty and liberal abortion laws and he portrayed the push for LGBTQ equality as “the last nail in our coffin.” He said “our fragile puppet state is under tremendous pressure from the likes of George Soros” and the U.S. embassy.
“We see a clear and present danger for violence,” Vasadze told Thomas, saying the Pride event would offend the vast majority of Georgians. He said he was worried about the “so-called Pride” marchers and suggested that if “our foolish police” try to create a protective cordon—as they did unsuccessfully in 2013—the crowd could become a mob. Vasadze said he is organizing men who would show up with white handkerchiefs and break through the police cordons, reach activists—potentially joined by western ambassadors—and “get them out of there.”
This week’s interview is not the first time CBN has promoted Georgia’s anti-equality activists. In 2016, It quoted Vasadze saying that Georgia would be happy to take “productive, progressive things” from the West, but “we’ll throw out all the garbage, all the nonsense and unfortunately, in this particular case, your current pseudo-moral standards need to stay outside of Georgia…”
In that interview, Vasadze denounced a nondiscrimination law passed by the parliament, which CBN said was done “under pressure from the European Union.” Vasadze told CBN that it “amounted to the legalization of homosexuality in Georgia, a decision he says is part of ‘an international agenda’ to ‘destroy the family.’”
Journalist Gorgi Lomsadze noted in EurasiaNet in advance of the 2016 WCF gathering:
The convention, timed to coincide with the day of a violent 2013 mob attack on an anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi, will be hosted by a Levan Vasadze, a dagger-sporting homophobic knight dressed in Georgian national attire. Vasadze participated and is alleged to have helped organize the 2013 attack that relegated Georgia’s nascent LGBTQ-rights movement to the periphery of national discourse.
To counter the symbolism of the May 17 anniversary of the mob attack on LGBTQ supporters as a day for celebrating gender and sexual diversity, Georgia’s Orthodox Church pronounced that date as the Day of Family. The Illinois-based World Family Congress subsequently announced its tenth annual conference would also coincide with the anniversary.
A WCF regional gathering in Tblisi two years earlier released a declaration denouncing the new non-discrimination law and declaring in part, “We believe that pseudo-values connected with promotion of ‘sexual diversity’ and favoring different kinds of immoral and perverse sexual behaviors, are harmful for the society and have nothing to do with the real foundational values of humanity and with the genuine and universally recognized human rights.”
Georgia’s capital is experiencing other protests this week over a Russian lawmaker speaking from the speaker’s seat in the parliament.