Bulgaria’s first ever Pride parade  has received the backing of leading members of the European Parliament amid threatened disruption by nationalist groups.

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has said it supports the event, planned for Saturday, praising it as an important step towards democracy and equality in the former Communist state.

President of the Intergroup Michael Cashman MEP led messages of support, saying in a statement:

“The rights to peaceful assembly are basic human rights and must be respected by every country.”

Sophie Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup for ALDE said: “I call upon Bulgaria authorities to give the Pride support and where necessary proper and adequate policing.”

“Sophia has the opportunity to set an example of tolerance and diversity in Europe,” said Veld.

The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) has lent its full support to parade organisers Gemini.

The parade is dedicated to the Family and will be held under the slogan Me and My Family because participants are “fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters,” the group said in a statement.

ILGA is urging the European Parliament to publicly condemn the so-called “Week of Intolerance” aimed at promoting hatred and providing misleading and false information about LGBT people in Bulgaria, which became a member of the EU in 2007.

Gemini representatives told BalkanTravellers.com that they do not expect serious clashes, despite the announcement of said “Week of Intolerance” with the motto “Be Intolerant, Be Normal” by Boyan Rasate, leader of the Bulgarian National Union, a marginal nationalist organisation.