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Bulgarian LGBT+ activists push back against far-right attacks on Pride

When an ultra-nationalist mob declared war on Bulgaria's LGBT+ community and launched a series of attacks on Pride events across the country, plans for a peaceful and joyful Pride march were in danger.

Just like millions around the world, LGBT+ people in Bulgaria were getting ready to celebrate Pride month in June 2021. For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they wanted to celebrate on the streets of their capital Sofia with a peaceful march.

But their plans were in danger: Ultra-nationalist groups had launched a series of attacks on all Pride events in the country. They tried to use their attacks on Pride events as a show of  “strength” before the upcoming elections. Their hope was to deter people from attending Pride by causing trouble. 

  • On May 15, a mob of 300 neo-Nazis attacked the 40 participants at the first-ever Pride event in the city of Burgas by throwing eggs, rocks, and smoke bombs at the Pride participants and burning a rainbow flag.
  • On May 20, a nationalist politician called Sofia Pride "a manifestation of group mental disorders" during a meeting of the Sofia City Council.
  • On May 25, a reading of an LGBT+ friendly children's book was interrupted by members of the Bulgarian National Union who shouted slurs and vandalized the windows of the venue with stickers that read "Stop LGBT virus".
  • And between May 31 and June 10, several community centers, venues and Pride billboards were vandalized with stickers, eggs and foam. Homophobic and transphobic leaflets were distributed all around the city.

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Sofia Pride was scheduled for June 12, and was supposed to be the highlight of a week of Pride events. But with more attacks announced, the LGBT+ community was getting increasingly scared of participating in any public gathering.

But Sofia Pride organizers decided to hold their ground and push back against the aggression. 

They started a petition, urging the Ministry of Interior to publicly condemn any acts of violence, especially by members of the government, and to keep the Pride events safe.

To make sure that their voices were heard, they guerilla projected a rainbow on the national parliament in Sofia, and added to the inscription: “Unity makes us strong” the words “Hate makes us weak.”


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And it worked! With pressure from more than 17,800 voices of All Out members the organizers were heard. 

On 12th June, 10,000 people gathered for the 14th Sofia Pride in Bulgaria’s capital - more people than ever before. Police made sure that the counter-protesters could not get to the march and that participants stayed safe. 

If you want to start a petition for LGBT+ rights, click here and get started!