A group allegedly belonging to the extremist Bulgarian National Union and led by its presidential candidate Boyan Rasate raided the Rainbow Hub LGBTI community center in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on the evening of October 30th.
Rainbow Hub activist Gloria Filipova told the media that Rasate punched her in the face during the attack, which resulted in significant property damage at the center.
The attack took place during a transthematic event in the center.
Filipova told Nova Televizia that there was a knock on the door during the event.
“A group led by Boyan Rasate entered. I started screaming that they couldn’t get in and then he hit me. They started destroying everything. The whole thing took a few minutes. I called 112 [the universal emergency number],” She said.
“In the end, Boyan Rasate and another man stayed. I had said they’d done their job and could go, but he replied that he wasn’t done and took out a knife and cut the tires of a scooter that was here. The knife wasn’t used against us, but there was a weapon, ”Filipova said.
The Rainbow Hub project was founded with the aim of building capacity and mobilizing the LGBTI community by supporting eight support groups in the community center, providing advocacy training, and supporting advocacy initiatives for each group.
A recent post by the Bulgarian National Union, a far-right minority group campaigning for ultra-nationalist causes, said there was “direct gender propaganda” against children in the Rainbow Hub.
“We, the Bulgarian National Federation and the Kubrat Youth, categorically reject such influences and perversions in Bulgaria,” the post said, adding a line – using strong expressions – they would do “everything possible” to address this to stop. “Don’t be tolerant, be normal,” the post said.
After the attack on the Rainbow Hub, the post was deleted.
Manuela Popova, communications manager at the Bilitis Foundation, noted that the attack came a few days after a petition with 8,000 signatures was submitted to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice calling for LGBTI crimes to be included in Bulgarian legislation.
The Rainbow Hub incident is far from the only homophobic incident in Bulgaria recently. There was a Series of such incidents before Sofia Pride 2021 and in recent years.
Popova told the media that this was not the first such case at the center to receive threats. Insulting stickers were posted on the doors of the center.
Asked for comment by Nova Televizia, Rasate said he would not comment as his civil rights allowed him to forego comments.
“The community shouldn’t be surprised by such attacks. They carry out propaganda among minors. It’s only natural for something like this to happen, ”he said.
The attack on Rainbow Hub came with presidential and early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria in two weeks.
In a statement on October 31, We Continue the Change condemned the attack as appalling.
“The fact that the leader of this gang is a presidential candidate only adds to the horror of the event,” the party said.
“Every Bulgarian citizen, regardless of gender, religion, belief, physical or mental disabilities or sexual orientation, should be protected and safe in his home and office, and his personality and property must not be attacked,” it said.
It called on authorities to lift Rasate’s immunity from prosecution as a presidential candidate and arrest the rest of the group.
“The Bulgarian public prosecutor’s office, which systematically refuses to defend Bulgarian citizens against robbery and theft, should at least do what is necessary to defend their safety,” the statement said.
In the meantime, Rainbow Hub has started a fundraising initiative to repair the center.
Bank transfer in Bulgarian leva:
Billitis Resource Center Foundation
Or via Paypal at [email protected]
For international donations in euros:
Bilitis Resource Center Foundation
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