On June 28th 2008, neo-Nazi groups aggressively attacked the first LGBTQ Pride march in Sofia, Bulgaria. A week before the march, the Bulgarian National Alliance, the most visible nationalist organization in the country, called for a “week of intolerance.” The BNA strongly encouraged nationalistic groups to organize themselves against the right of the queer community in Bulgaria to peacefully march, which resulted in loosely organized violence during the festivities. BNA members and other neo-Nazis threw molotov cocktails and small explosives at the participants of the Pride march. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. However, more than eighty skinheads, including Boyan Rasate (head of the BNA) were arrested for their attempted harm and direct violence toward pride participants.
This year neo-Nazi groups are once again organizing themselves against the march and Bulgarian queers’ ability to defend their human rights. The Bulgarian government not only tolerates but also encourages such attitudes. Two of the parties in the Parliament of Bulgaria are nationalistic and one of them, Ataka, called for “the men to beat up the gays.” In addition, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria and head of the “socialist” party, Sergei Stanishev, subtly, through hidden sparks of hatred, said that he did not like the “manifestation and demonstration of such orientations.”
Even though the rights of LGBTQ people in Bulgaria are protected by the constitution, this is yet more empty rhetoric in the hands of the powerful. The queer community refuses to give up its rights to a free assembly. There will be another Pride march on the 27th of June 2009. Let’s unite and stand together against the homophobic and transphobic state of Bulgaria and growing neo-Nazism in Europe.
The International Queer Solidarity Network calls for a European mobilization, with support from the United States, that will stand in solidarity with Queer Bulgaria.
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If you cannot attend the Pride, visit http://www.iqsn.org
for more information on how you can help.