Politicians in Plovdiv, Bulgaria are campaigning to block a new LGBT+ exhibition—called Balkan Pride—which is due to debut in July.
The exhibition is a part of the European Capital of Culture initiative. This year, Plovdiv is one of the chosen cities, marking the first time a Bulgarian city has been chosen.
However, the choice to feature an LGBT+ exhibition has upset local councillors. Bulgarian politician Alexander Sidi said last weekend that he was prepared to use “illegal means” to stop the photography exhibition from going ahead, according to the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Borislav Inchev from VMRO-Plovdic said he was “curious” to see what would happen if a teacher “made a mistake and sent her schoolchildren to see the exhibition.
“What would they see? How would she explain it?” He said.
Councillors in Bulgaria tried to topple the festival’s artistic director in protest
In a bid to topple the event, anti-LGBT+ city councillors yesterday held a vote on whether or not the festival’s artistic director, Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva should be removed from her role.
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However, councillors failed to gain a majority of votes for their motion, which would only have been able to recommend she be removed from the role, according to SofiaGlobe.com.
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding about this massive initiative and I am very annoyed that the quality of the debate is being reduced to such a low level.”
– Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev
Kuyumdzhieva said the backlash against the Balkan Pride exhibition could “seriously damage the reputation and image that we’ve been building in the past five years.”
Calls for Plovdic mayor Ivan Totev to resign over the exhibition were also rejected. Speaking at yesterday’s vote, Totev said that opponents to the exhibition were damaging the city’s reputation.
Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev said anti-LGBT councillors are ‘throwing mud on the city’
“We are throwing mud at the moment, we are throwing mud on the city,” he said, according to SofiaGlobe. He also said he was disappointed that the backlash against the exhibition was gaining international media attention, and said it was a poor reflection on the city.
“I will not allow the munitions of the Plovdiv municipal council to be thrown against the European Capital of Culture 2019 project,” Totev continued. “There is a fundamental misunderstanding about this massive initiative and I am very annoyed that the quality of the debate is being reduced to such a low level.”
In a statement about the exhibition, Bulgaria based group Gays and Lesbians Accepted in Society (GLAS)—who have been part of the creation of Balkan Pride—said: “We expect to begin a dialogue on the intertwining of national culture, traditions, sexual orientation and gender identity, and to make a step forward in breaking the stereotypes of LGBTI people in the context of Balkan traditions.”
The Balkan Pride exhibition is just one of many events scheduled in Plovdiv as a part of the European Capital of Culture initiative.