With strict security measures in place in the Bulgarian capital, the ninth annual Sofia Pride parade, on June 18 2016, passed off peacefully following earlier fears about possible problems from a counter-protest.
Starting from the Monument of the Soviet Army and with more than 1000 people joining in, including a number of foreign diplomats demonstrating solidairy, the parade – led by a truck platfrom – made its way along Dondoukov Boulevard to the Cabinet office, returning to the Soviet Army Monument.
The Pride parade was themed with a call for families and friends of LGBTI people to help provide a caring, inclusive and supportive environment.
Interviewed by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, participants in Sofia Pride said that polls showed that 68 per cent of Bulgarians had homophobic attitudes and more than 40 per cent did not want to share a workplace with gay people.
“Many gay people are confronted primarily with difficulty being accepted in their families, because the family somehow internalise that homophobia and transphobia, which is widespread in society. Carelessness of institutions actually leads to what families are worried to hide homosexuality to their children and worry literally for their safety, their careers, their development,” a participant in the Pride parade said.
Counter-protesters gathered near the National Palace of Culture pylons. Reporters noted that the police presence at the counter-protest outnumbered participants.