Unlike similar queer parties in other cities, HOROOM is not just a gay men’s party, but instead invites the entire LGBTQ community to participate. These parties are not exclusively queer—we also invite supporters—but we have to utilize strict door policies to ensure the safety of our guests. We privately invite every single person who attends HOROOM. This means more than just face control at the door; we require people to register on our website with their full name and a link to their Facebook page. We then have someone who verifies these accounts. It might seem strict, but we are this way because we want BASSIANI and HOROOM to be a truly safe space for the LGBTQ community in Georgia. We also use this same system for pre-sales at BASSIANI, to implement face control before people even get to the club. You need to bring a matching ID to get in if you’re accepted.
Nightlife in Georgia still has some fundamental political issues working against it. Even though the crime rate is very low, the government insists on maintaining a repressive and ineffective zero-tolerance drug policy. Suspected drug users face humiliating human rights abuses from the police. Last year, on June 17, Levan Abzianidze died after the police took him to a narcotics center and forced him to drink a fatal amount of diuretics.
In Georgia there is no distinction between small quantities and large quantities of drugs or between possession and distribution. A small amount of ecstasy is prosecuted the same as a large amount of heroin. We don’t advocate drug use, but this is a problem that affects our scene and even influences tourism to this country. Drug users, and not dealers, currently face harsher penalties than rapists under our local laws. The department of internal affairs parks their cars outside of venues, and there is a risk of arrest just for attending a party. We stand with another club, Mtkvarze, to resist the country’s drug policies, which infringe on the rights of the people on a daily basis. We actively support the “White Noise movement”, which fights for civilized narcopolitics in Georgia. Today there is some talk of rethinking these laws, which would be unthinkable two years ago.
Georgia is trying to attract tourists as it moves towards entering the European Union. Clubbing is one of the most evolved fields of culture in the country and it can play a major role towards achieving both of those mentioned goals. However, the drug policies that currently exist also seriously hamper this process. Every major political party has promised to reform the drug laws, however nothing has happened since they were first put into place in 2003. Now that the elections have happened on October 8, we are hopeful that the laws will be changed sooner rather than later.