In a television interview on June 2, Bulgaria’s Volya party leader Vesselin Mareshki sought to defend his call for lawmakers to declare “homosexual conflicts of interest”.
Mareshki, leader of a populist party that won 12 out of 240 seats in the Bulgarian National Assembly in March elections on a platform of cheaper fuel and pharmaceuticals, made the call in Parliament on May 31.
There was scant political reaction but the statement led to outrage on social networks.
At its Wednesday sitting, Mareshki told the House: “A week ago, we submitted declarations of conflicts of interest and because many people allowed themselves to comment on who has the right to go here or there, who has the right to represent Bulgaria…on behalf of our group we call for, besides economic conflicts of interest, the declaration also of homosexual conflicts of interest, and those, related with the use of alcohol and drug abuse.
“I am not going to allow an open homosexual to put questions whether I have the right to be somewhere, and not only me, but every normal Bulgarian citizen. Everyone should come out to declare his dependencies. That way it will be understood why someone is voting for a particular law.”
“It is absolute cynicism that such people should be in power, and some of them in the National Assembly, where we also have MPs with criminal convictions,” Mareshki said. At this point, the Speaker, Dimitar Glavchev, intervened to ask Mareshki not to mention names.
Bulgarian-language media noted that Mareshki’s statement came after a Facebook post by an MP for the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kristian Vigenin, calling into question Mareshki’s presence in an audience by Pope Francis. Vigenin, who was foreign minister in the short-lived “Oresharski” administration, is married, with two sons.
The Prosecutor-General has requested Parliament to remove Mareshki’s statutory immunity as an MP from prosecution, so that he can faces charges of assault and extortion. Mareshki denies wrongdoing.
In a Friday interview with Nova Televizia, Mareshki – who is also a Deputy Speaker of Parliament – said that “homosexuals in power are hiding, making them dependent on people who have secret records of what they do”.
He said that his comments had been misunderstood: “Everyone is free to do what he wants with his life and body.”
Mareshki said that he did not understand why gay people in power were hiding. He said that they turn out for Pride parades, but concealed their sexuality when in power.
“They seem to think it something shameful. Why do they show it on the squares, when they are free people, but when they get into power and decisions about the people of Bulgaria depend on them, they hide? That makes them dependent. Someone like that could take us into war with Russia.”
Asked whether there were drug addicts in Parliament, he said: “I have not touched drugs and do not drink alcohol, I have not seen drugs other than those I sell legally in my pharmacies”.
“I will not become gay to make someone like me, I will not use drugs, I will not drink alcohol, I will not become a paedophile and will not build in foreign real estate,” said Mareshki, reiterating his parliamentary group’s call for all Bulgarian MPs to be tested for illegal drugs.