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?


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  • Daez

    It is about time that the United States cuts all ties and foreign aide to countries that do not demonstrate respect for all minorities. I am sick of our tax dollars going to aide countries like this one.

  • Houston Bill

    Exactly how is the Bulgarian Orthodox Church not acting like a terrorist group? Seriously, an official of that organization is, without correction from the remainder of the organization, making a direct call for physical VIOLENCE against peaceful protesters operating fully within their rights under international human rights norms (as well as Bulgaria’s Constitution – for whatever that is worth).

    I say, treat the Bulgarian Orthodox Church like Hamas. Jail anyone in this country that funnels money to them. Bar their members from travelling to the USA.

  • Petar

    @Daez: Do not worry Daez, your “tax dollars” are NOT going to Bulgaria, as the country is part of the EU and it is one of the few growing and stable economies in Europe at the moment.

    As for the Sofia annual Gay Pride, this year it is shaping up to be the biggest and most popular to date. Many mainstream Bulgarian singers and entertainers are officially taking part in it, and so are many visitors from neighbouring countries where there are still no gay parades.

    The Bulgarian Church have always been opposed to the event, and their statement this year is not something new. Each year however, there are fewer and fewer incidents reported at the annual Sofia Gay Parade, as it becomes one of the biggest in the region. There was one reported scuffle last year, which took place in the evening after the event had taken place.

    I am not saying that everything is perfect, but for a country which for a long time has been subjected to the most brutal and inhumane form of communism, things in Bulgaria are definitely looking up.

  • Justin

    @Daez: “It is about time that the United States cuts all ties and foreign aide to countries that do not demonstrate respect for all minorities. ”

    Its seems to me like the authorities are respectful to minorities. They let the Pride Parade take place and the protest. Its not the government saying those homophobic things, Its some idiots (who have the right to express their opinion as well).

  • Houston Bill

    @Petar: Bulgaria is a corrupt and weak state with a very weak economy. The vast majority of its highly educated leave as soon as they can. Yes, there are a few people that are trying to change things, but Bulgaria and Romania are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the EU in just about every metric imagineable, including rule of law.

  • Petar

    @Houston Bill: When was the last time you have been to Bulgaria? Or for that matter have you ever been outside of your country? Seeing that you are changing the topic of discussion from gay rights to corruption in Bulgaria, can you honestly say that there is no corruption in the form of lobbyism in the US? And if yes, are you really that naive?

    We are the “bottom of the barrel” because unlike you, dear Huston Bill, we didn’t buy and sell human beings from Africa as slaves, so that they could build our country. But that is a different topic altogether.

    You must be a very ignorant and insular person if you can so easily pass judgement on a whole nation which is still reeling from the terror and repressions of Communism, which you obviously know very little about. Otherwise if you did, you would have a lot more respect and admiration for these people who are trying to catch up with the rest of the free and civilized world under abnormal and difficult circumstances indeed. And on top of all that (if that isn’t enough) they have the Church to deal with.

  • Joy

    @Daez: This statement was almost as ignorant as that priest’s. Bulgaria is in the EU. The US cannot cut ties with its most important partner. Besides there are chruch extremists EVERYWHERE.

  • Petar

    I am happy to report that the annual Sofia Gay Parade took place today without any news of intimidation by ring-wing groups. There was a rival conservative rally for the “preservation of family values” held earlier during the day which only managed to attract about 200 followers. I suppose however that in a free country, such as Bulgaria, everyone should be allowed to voice their opinion, as long as it is done in a peaceful way.

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