Homophobic nationalists disrupt Bulgarian LGBT events

Sofia Pride Parade in the Bulgarian capital in June 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE / VASSIL DONEV

A group of around 25 to 30 nationalists tried to stop the screening of a film depicting a relationship between two women in Sofia on Sunday evening.

The men appeared to be associated with the far-right Bulgarian National Union Party and the Lukovmarch, an annual event commemorating World War II General Hristo Lukov that is often criticized for providing a forum for neo-Nazis to gather together.

The police were called and director Slava Doytcheva’s film “Eggshells” was eventually shown at The Steps, a venue recently opened by the Single Step Foundation that supports the local LGBT community.

“Yes, this was another attack on a society-hosted event, another attempt by a physical threat to get us to step back and cancel the performance. But the demonstration took place, ”said the GLAS Foundation, the co-organizers of the event, in a statement on Monday.

“An adequate response is required from law enforcement agencies and those in power who, through their inaction, have confirmed such incidents,” she added.

The incident follows other disruptions to LGBT events this month, all of which may be linked to far-right organizations.

“I see these organized attacks as part of the ado about the upcoming elections,” said Ivan Dimov of the Single Step Foundation.

Like Dimov, many activists see the recent incidents as being organized by nationalist parties who want to gain credibility for the July 11 elections, the unsuccessful polls from the 4th threshold to get seats in parliament.

On May 26th, a discussion event at The Steps about the popular children’s book “Mravin and Planet Forest”, a same-sex love story in a fairy tale world, was interrupted by nationalist groups who defaced the shop windows of the venue.

“Some of the people from last night were the same people who disrupted the previous event. All are masked in black, identify with the Bulgarian National Association and Lukovmarch and are most likely not even 18 years old, ”said Dimov.

The same happened on May 27th in Plovdiv, in the building of the local National Radio branch, where on May 27th an LGBT-related book presentation in the local National Radio building in the city of Plovdiv was disrupted by protesters, who were considered by local media. Football hooligans who managed to break a security chain were described. In the past year, young people in Plovdiv have been victims of homophobic physical attacks.

On May 15, the coastal city of Burgas hosted its first Pride event, which was surrounded by conservative protesters, many of whom were organized by the ultra-nationalist and pro-Russian party Vazrajdane.

The demonstration of “Eggshells” on Sunday was part of the cultural program in connection with the annual Sofia Pride, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.

The program will continue on Monday with “Charlatan”, a film by the acclaimed Polish director Agnieszka Holland, which tells the story of the Czech religious healer Jan Mikolasek.

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