A ‘war of words’ between the leader of Bulgaria’s popular GERB political party and the country’s Prime Minister has escalated.
Boyko Borisov, the GERB leader and mayor of Sofia, responded to Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev’s assertion that he is not afraid of his rightwing opponent, ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.
“We will not be governed by a party that will turn the country into criminals’ dominion,” said Mr Stanishev, leader of the Socialist party.
Mr Borisov retaliated, telling journalists he would do “anything to keep people with homosexual adjustment out of the politics of this country, because this affects peoples psyche and also the way that important decisions are being taken.”
This is thought to be a reference to the Prime Minister.
Mr Stanishev, 42, is a colourful political figure in Bulgaria.
Prime Minister since 2005, he is unmarried but co-habits with TV war correspondent Elena Yoncheva.
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.
Parliament is considering a new draft of a the Family Code which introduces civil partnership into Bulgarian law, but only between a man and a woman.
Politicians have refused to countenance extending protections to gay and lesbian couples.
A poll released last month found that 80% of Bulgarians have negative attitudes to gays and lesbians.
70% would not allow their child to be educated by a gay teacher and 50% would not work with a homosexual.
The poll “was presented at a roundtable in Sofia dedicated to sexuality issues and AIDS and HIV prevention,” according to Bulgarian news service novinite.com.
The study revealed that 59% are “extremely homophobic.”
At Sofia Pride in June a heavy police presence ensured there were no injuries to the 150 participants.
More than 60 skinheads and rightwing nationalists were arrested and a homophobic mob threw petrol bombs, squid and stones.
150 police, some in armoured police vehicles, managed to keep order. It was the country’s first Pride event.
Prime Minister Stanishev said he “accepts people with different sexual orientation but does not quite approve of the demonstrations of such an orientation.”