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Second ambassador in a week under fire for Pride support

Jessica Geen June 18, 2009
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The British ambassador to Bulgaria has been criticised for his support of gay Pride.

The attacks on Steve Williams follow criticism of British ambassador to Poland Ric Todd last week, when he gave gay groups a translated guide to LGBT rights.

Williams had extended a message of support to the Rainbow Friendship Rally in Sofia, to be held on June 27th.

He said: “Guaranteeing human rights of LGBT persons requires an active, consistent, determined policy of the authorities, both at the level of central government and at the level of local government, as well as by other state institutions.

“We express our wholehearted support to all those who – whether as individuals, working for government organisations or for nongovernmental organisations – are working to ensure that all of us can fully enjoy our human rights, without distinction of any kind, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Celebrating diversity is not about promoting a lifestyle – it is about promoting respect for fundamental human rights. It is about the very essence of our European democratic values.”

However, Bojan Rasate, the leader of the Guardia Bulgarian National Alliance, attacked the remarks, saying Williams should “mind his own business and his country’s business”.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Rasate added: “He has no right to tell Bulgarians how to live in Bulgaria. Europe has been ruled by homosexuals for a long time. We do not care how they live, but we do not want them to impose their pervert values on us.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The FCO promotes human rights around the world regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Showing support for Pride events, where people seek to assert their rights and highlight the challenges they face, is part of this work.”

Last week, British ambassador to Poland Ric Todd was told by the country’s civil rights ombudsman he was “exceeding his authority” by promoting a gay Pride march in Warsaw.

Janusz Kochanowski, the Polish civil rights ombudsman, said Todd was being “improper”, adding that Polish gays do not live in fear of persecution.

Poland and Bulgaria were named in an EU report in March as two countries which routinely block gay events.

A 2008 poll found that 80 per cent of Bulgarians have negative attitudes to gays and lesbians.

Seventy per cent would not allow their child to be educated by a gay teacher and 50 per cent would not work with someone who was gay.

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