Bulgarian Orthodox Church Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai has slammed as “a shameful demonstration of the sin of Sodom” the holding of a gay film festival in Bulgaria’s second city, part of Plovdiv’s bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2019.
A statement by Nikolai came soon after the official fan club of football team Lokomotiv Plovdiv withdrew its support for Plovdiv’s European Capital of Culture bid.
In a statement, Nikolai said that it was the duty of the church to “condemn in the strongest terms the festival films that glorify vice and promote the decay of the family”.
The city’s church leader, among the most fundamentalist and conservative of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s top clergy, said that it was unfortunate that the authorities in the city had not prevented the film festival.
“Let us hope that this will not be repeated and that the secular authorities in future will consider and respect the values and moral views of the majority of its citizens,” Nikolai said.
“Society is not obliged to tolerate someone poking him in the eye with his own depravity.”
Metropolitan Nikolai said that he believed that Plovdiv would become European Capital of Culture 2019 and prayed for the success of this endeavour.
“If Plovdiv become European Capital of Culture, it will be precisely because of its proven huge contribution to the treasury of Bulgarian and world culture, the achievements of its artists and their resilience in defending the ancient cultural and moral values. Not if we lightly give up the actual spiritual achievements, and replace them with ‘modern’ shameful demonstration of decadence and depravity,” Nikolai said.
The film festival, which is showing movies provided by the Goethe Institute, the embassies of the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and international LGBT organisations, began on June 9 and continues until June 17 at various restaurants and bars in Plovdiv.
The Botev Plovdiv fan club said in a declaration sent to mayor Ivan Totev and the deputy mayor in charge of culture, Stefan Stoyanov, that they opposed Plovdiv becoming Bulgaria’s “gay capital”.
The football fan club said that the film festival amounted to propaganda for homosexuality and said that the LGBT community was made up of drug addicts and homeless people who tried to “degenerate” children.
Local media reported Totev as indicating discontent with the foundation organising the gay film festival, because the motto of Plovdiv’s campaign to be European Capital of Culture 2019 was “Together” and the film festival was divisive.