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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 28
Sofia Pride march blocked by neo-Nazis
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Sofia Pride march blocked by neo-Nazis

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Police outnumbered Pride marchers in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 5, as 100 LGBT activists attempted the city's seventh Pride march, in defiance of neo-Nazi thugs.

Marchers planned to march past the monument to Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski in the center of the capital city, but were blocked by members of the Ataka (Attack) Party. While Attack members deny being neo-Nazis, their ideology is anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, anti-Muslim, and anti-Gay.

Right-wing thugs also attacked previous Sofia Pride marches. Last year's Pride had to be postponed till September because police refused to guarantee the safety of marchers. The high point for Pride events in Bulgaria came in 2012, when more than 2,000 people turned out for a largely peaceful march.

As in past years, foreign embassies issued a joint statement supporting Bulgaria's LGBT community.

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

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, on the other hand, condemned the event, calling it a 'march of proud sin.'

'They are a danger to the good upbringing of our children, destroy the foundations of the traditional family and threaten the good health of our society,' the church said in a statement in June.

Pride organizers had originally called the march for June 21, but postponed it till July 5 out of respect for victims of severe floods on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.

Same-sex relations were legalized in Bulgaria by the Communist government in 1968, and anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation were passed in 2003, but there are no legal protections for Transgender Bulgarians and no hate crimes laws.

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