An nationalist group is threatening to mar gay celebrations in Bulgaria with a “Week of Intolerance.”
Ahead of Saturday’s gay pride event in Sofia, the right-wing Bulgarian National Union leader Boyan Rasate is staging a protest against homosexuals he believes enjoy increasing political protection in the eastern European state.
“There are homosexuals in all political parties that one can think of. I have not heard of homosexuals in the Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union”, Rasate said, according to Sofia News Agency.
Part of the “Week of Intolerance” agenda will be to examine ways to restrict “manifestations of homosexuality.”
Bulgarian gay rights activists condemned the move as a political stunt.
Aksiniya Gencheva of the Bulgarian LGBT organisation Gemini, which is participating on Saturday’s event, told the Sofia News Agency the BNU’s call to ban gay organisations contradicted the Bulgarian Constitution.
Gemini is expecting a protest by the BNU during Saturday’s parade.
Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in the 1960s, the age of consent was equalised in 2002 and anti-discrimination laws have been in place since 2003.
Gemini’s website claims the country has some of the best anti-discrimination legislation in Europe.
Social acceptance of homosexuality in Bulgaria, however, still has a way to go.
Recognition of gay rights is mostly confined to the large cities and among young people.
Research conducted last year found that only 17 per cent of Bulgarians “can freely communicate with gay people.”
There is still progress to be made on the legal front too, as same-sex unions have not yet been recognised.