Bulgaria: Sofia LGBT Pride Should Showcase a Tolerant Bulgaria

The June 10th pride march in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, is an opportunity for the country to showcase diversity and tolerance. Authorities can start by pledging up front to protect marchers from a group calling on counter-demonstrators to “cleanse Sofia from garbage” at the weekend event.

A group called the National Resistance, which pledges to protect Bulgaria from “foreign ideologies” such as parliamentary democracy, moral decay including “strongly propagandized sodomy,” and the “parasitism of minorities,” has registered a counter-demonstration at the same location where Sofia Pride intends to gather on Saturday. In a video message promoting the event, National Resistance leader Blagovest Asenov calls on people to bring “brooms and shovels with wooden handles” in order for them to “cleanse Sofia from garbage.” At an anti-refugee demonstration in Sofia on May 1, Asenov described immigrants “social parasites.”

Sofia Pride marchers have faced hateful rhetoric and violence in the past, and only tepid police protection. In 2011, counter-demonstrators attacked and injured five marchers. Read more via Human Rights Watch