In what has become an annual ritual since the first Sofia Pride in 2008, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, has called for the cancellation of the 2013 parade.
In a statement, the church said that the parade “threatens the moral foundations of our society and our children’s health and the Bulgarian nation as a whole”.
“Homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality are particularly harmful and unnatural violation of God’s commandment and blessing of marital love between a man and a woman, as an indispensable basis for normal and blissful existence of mankind, for the continued prosperity of society and the positive development of children’s personalities,” the Holy Synod said, calling on the authorities to revoke permission for Sofia Pride, which this year takes place on June 22.
The theme of this year’s Sofia Pride is “acceptance”.
Sofia Pride has grown as an event over the years, albeit with some incidents of threats and harassment from religious and extremist circles.
The organisers of Sofia Pride say that the main short-term goal is the acceptance and equal treatment of all Bulgarian citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sofia Pride “has the potential to achieve this by increasing the visibility of otherwise hidden and marginalized community of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT), and thereby give rise to a public debate on prejudice and discrimination against them,” organisers say.
In the same way that church condemnation has been traditional, so support from members of the diplomatic community has become.
Ahead of this year’s Sofia Pride, a joint statement by ambassadors in Sofia said, “we would like to convey our support to all people who either actively participate in or sympathise with this year’s Sofia Pride March on June 22 2013.
“Promoting the principle of equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is an important aspect of a tolerant and respectful civil society. No one should ever be discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. By signing this statement we would like to stress that any democratic society should stand up for openmindedness and tolerance towards the LGBTI community.
We want to encourage the public and the national authorities to support and defend these values. We want to show our solidarity to all the people joining the Pride. We wish everyone a peaceful and happy celebration,” the statement said.
The statement was signed by the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, and by the chargé d’affaires of the embassies of Lithuania, Serbia and South Africa.
(Photo: Patrik Millikin/sxc.hu)