Extremists, Church Officials Call For Violence At Pride In Sofia, Bulgaria

The Pride parade in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia is still set to happen this Saturday, but attendees are bracing for protests and the possibility of violence encouraged by officials from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Last year, paradegoers were beaten in the street, and in 2008, the first year a LGBT march was held, skinheads threw Molotov cocktails at celebrants. This year Father Evgenii Yanakiev is encouraging the faithful to throw stones at parade participants and said politicians who support the procession should be “drowned in the sea with millstones tied around their necks.”

Now members of the Bulgarian National Union have successfully obtained a permit from the city to hold a concert just a few hours before Sofia Pride. Members of the global anti-homophobia group, however, say the show is just a front for a protest that will no-doubt stir up anti-gay sentiment.

 “Stoning, fire bombs, public beatings—the story of Pride in Sofia, Bulgaria sounds like it’s from the Middle Ages, not the 21st century,” said AllOut director Andre Banks  “Mayor Yordanka Fandakova has a responsibility to protect the Pride participants when there is real danger that extremists will exact horrific violence on her citizens, simply because the want to live openly and be embraced for who they are. Giving an official permit to violent, anti-gay extremists on the same morning as Pride is a recipe for disaster.”

As Banks points out, while there will be police protection at the parade itself, there’s nothing stopping “an angry stirred-up mob of right wing extremists” from harassing or attacking people on their way to or from the march.

James Warlick, the U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, is among the dignitaries expected to attend Sofia Pride.

Human rights activists have asked the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to condemn these calls for violence but instead, the Church issued a statement confirming its opposition to “immoral manifestations,” and calling homosexuality “an unnatural lust which unconditionally harms both the personality of those who commit it and the society as a whole.”

But drunken hooligans intent on anti-gay violence? That’s just Christian love, right?