An estimated more than 6000 people attended Sofia Pride 2019, held in Bulgaria’s capital city on June 8 with the motto: “Do not give power to hatred”.
Opening with a musical programme featuring stars including Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta, and backed by international organisations and foreign ambassadors, the event had a serious message championing rights for LGBTI people in Bulgaria.
Simeon Vassilev of the GLAS Foundation, an organiser of Sofia Pride, told Bulgarian National Television: “I have no right to marry my partner, if something happens I have no right to inherit, if something happens, I have no right to visit him in hospital, and all these rights are taken away, about which people do not realise, that LGBT people have no access to them.”
There was a strong police and security presence to protect the event, which in its earliest years – 2019’s was the 12th Sofia Pride – came under assault from ultra-right homophobic forces.
A day earlier, Vassilev told Bulgarian National Radio that the Pride was “not a parade, it is a procession for peaceful rights, for equal rights”.
Showing support for the 2019 Sofia Pride was a team of leaders and members of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, wearing T-shirts made for the occasion, reading: “Hate is not kosher”.
The event drew the traditional criticism from far-right and ultra-nationalist parties, and in Sofia and elsewhere, there were small protests on the theme of “defending the traditional family”.