Thousand participants marched at Sofia Pride 2014

09/07/2014
Submitted by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Press release

Thousand participants marched at Sofia Pride 2014

Sofia, Bulgaria

July 8th, 2014

Only one Bulgarian politician and two minor political parties in support of the 7th Pride Parade in Bulgaria.

One thousand participants took to the street in the 7th Sofia Pride march. This was announced as official data from the organizers who keep track of the participants via special wrist bands which they put on each person at the entrance points of the event.

The LGBTI pride march was held in the Bulgarian capital on Saturday, July 5th, with the endorsement of 11 foreign diplomatic mission, participation and official addresses of the Ambassadors of Britain and the USA, two extra-parliamentary political parties, representative of a third political party participating as individual as well as several non-governmental organizations.

Initially the march had been scheduled for June 21st, but organizers postponed it as a gesture of respect for people who had died during deadly floods that week along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

Like in previous years, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church represented by the Holy Synod condemned the pride, calling it a ‘march of proud sin’. Nationalist political parties also condemned the pride and called upon Bulgarian people to protect their children from this ‘parade of lust’. Member of the Parliament from the nationalist and pro-Russian political party of “Ataka” called the event ‘pederasts march’ while sympathizers of the party were chanting ‘Kill the pederasts’ in the background, surrounded by a cordon of police. Many calls for violence against the pride were also made in social media, mainly on Facebook. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the largest human rights organization in Bulgaria, filed a signal in prosecution for the incitements.

None of the major political parties attended or sent a letter of support for the pride. Only the Greens party and the Bulgarian Left party sent their statements of support. The pride was attended by Viktor Lilov, a politician from the Civil Council of the Reformers Block political coalition. The organizers received also a video message from the Hollywood star Jared Leto for the Sofia Pride Film Festival where ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, starring Leto, was shown.

On July 3rd, Ambassadors of eleven Sofia-based embassies issued a statement of support for Sofia Pride.

‘We would like to convey our support to all people who either actively participate in or back this year's Sofia Pride on 5 July 2014,’ the statement reads.

‘Promoting the principle of equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is an important aspect of a tolerant and respectful civil society. No one should ever be discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. By signing this statement, we would like to stress that any democratic society should stand up for open-mindedness towards LGBTI people.’

The statement was signed by the ambassadors of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United States, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Denmark and South Africa.

This year the organizers again faced difficulties with the cooperation with the municipality which is responsible for administration of public events. One of the two exhibitions that were intended to be shown in Sofia Pride Art Week was cancelled due to a letter from the municipality that instructed to show the exhibition for three hours in the closed space of the pride starting point while organizers requested from the municipality a week of exhibition in the city center.

Moreover the municipality shortened the route of the march that was planned for June 21st in more than half with no specific reasoning.

Both decisions were appealed by the organizers in the court which decided that the letters of the municipality cannot be appealed because they are just recommendations that are not obligatory, hence – do not violate the freedom of peaceful assembly.

For July 5th a new route had been chosen and was approved by the municipality.

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Contacts:

Radoslav Stoyanov

Expert in the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

T: 00359 899 470 703

E: r.stoyanov@bghelsinki.org


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