Three Bulgarian NGOs are now providing free counselling for parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or intersex children. It is the only offer of this kind in Bulgaria. The Glas Foundation, the Bilitis Resource Center Foundation and the Youth LGBT Action Group teamed up to make this possible.
In December, the counselling will commence, the organisers say. A group for parents of LGBT youth will meet once a month, at first. Later, the NGOs involved want to extend their offers into other Bulgarian cities.
Simeon Vasilev, the Executive Director of the Glas Foundation, told The Sofia Globe, he and his colleagues had heard so many heart-breaking stories from LGBT friends. Some were asked to leave their homes after their coming out, others were facing aggression. Some Bulgarian parents even tried to have their LGBT kids “treated”.
These stories motivate the organisations to organise counselling offers and groups.
Parents who go to the meeting will be able to learn what LGBT really is, how they can do something against their fears and prejudice, and learn how to love their children unconditionally, while getting rid of their homophobia. In order to register, parents can write to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The homophobia in Bulgaria extends from society into the Sofia parliament. Bulgarian politicians have never demonstrated support of the LGBT community in the country. The few politicians who might be more sympathetic seem to be afraid to show support, probably because they might not be voted back into office.
NGOs are also criticising existing Bulgarian laws, which do not list hate crime offenses. Hate speech and violence against members of the LGBT community are wide spread, NGOs say.
The annual Sofia Pride Parade is being supported by western European ambassadors as well as their American and Israeli colleagues every single year. So far, no Bulgarian officials have shown up at the event.
Even Bulgaria’s neighbour Serbia, a non-EU country, seems to be more modern, in this regard. The first female Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, who is also the first openly homosexual head of government in that country, recently took part in the Belgrade Pride Parade.
Simeon Vasilev of the Glas Foundation in Bulgaria and his team are committed. “We are constantly running awareness-raising campaigns, lobbying and broadening our networks of supporters”, he says. “I do believe the support groups carry the potential to create change in a couple of years time, in the attitudes of parents towards homosexuality.”