ILGA-Europe writes to Bulgarian Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
Prior to the third LGBT Pride festival, ILGA-Europe wrote a latter to Bulgarian authorities
Open letter to Gen. Boyko Borisov, prime Minister of Bulgaria, and Tzvetan Tzvetanov, Minister of Interior of Bulgaria
Violent attacks motivated by hatred
Dear Mr Borisov and Mr Tzvetanov,
I am writing to express our concern regarding information we received from Bulgarian Activists Alliance on cases of violent attacks by radical nationalist groups targeting such groups as Roma and LGBT people.
As you know, on 26 June, the LGBT community in Bulgaria will host its third annual Pride festival. This event, which celebrates diversity and promotes respect and values of equality and human rights, also attracts hostile reactions from groups of people who oppose those democratic values and use violence and intimidations.
We are calling on you to ensure that the LGBT Pride festival takes places peacefully and with adequate protection. As you know, under the European human rights law, it is a duty of a state to ensure that freedom of assembly and expression is being enjoyed by citizens without discrimination. Moreover, it is a duty of a state to provide adequate protections to those citizens, who express and/or advocate views which are not necessarily shared by the majority.
Hate speech and hate crime are a serious issue across Europe and European institutions take it very seriously. On 31 March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.(1) The Recommendation calls on all Council of Europe member states to take appropriate measure to prevent, monitor and address such incidents of hate speech and hate crime.
In 2008-2009, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency published two reports dealing specifically with the issues of LGBT rights.(2) These documents highlight the fact that Bulgaria’s Criminal Code does not recognise homophobic and transphobic motivation as aggravating circumstances for sentencing perpetrators of hate speech and hate crime. Therefore we call on the Bulgarian authorities to amend the legislation to ensure that homophobia and transphobia are recognised on the same level as other hateful motivating factor such as racism.
I hope that this year’s LGBT Pride festival will take place peacefully and with adequate police protection. We also hope that Bulgarian authorities will take a strong stance by supporting the democratic values and equality and human rights for all and will condemn any hateful expressions and attempts to sabotage the LGBT Pride festival. Finally, we hope Bulgaria will make the necessary legislative steps to improve its legislation on hate and violence, to ensure that homophobia and transphobia are adequately tackled.
(2) Homophobia and Discrimination on grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU, Part I – legal Analysis: http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/lgbt-rights/pub_cr_homophobia_0608_en.htm and Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU member States: Part II – The Social Situation: http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/lgbt-rights/pub_cr_homophobia_p2_0309_en.htm