In the latest bid to sabotage the 2023 Sofia Pride, hand-lettered banners with fake messages purported to be from the organisers were put up on bridges in Bulgaria’s capital city the day before the event.
In a post on Facebook on June 17, Sofia Pride said that the aim of the action was to create turmoil and to counterfeit the messages and goals of Sofia Pride and the LGBTI community.
“We explicitly state that we are not the authors of these messages. They do not fit the common human values we profess,” Sofia Pride said, referring to the banners which had extremist content.
“Spreading lies and misinformation is an attempt to divide and provoke mistrust and hatred towards LGBTI people on the eve of the most important event for our community, Sophia Pride. We Pride organisers will not allow this to happen.
“We urge the Bulgarian public to be critical and not to succumb to these consecutive lies about us. Now more than ever, it is important to stand up against all attempts to divide Bulgarian society and plant hatred towards LGBTI people.
“Despite the attempts of sabotage, Sofia Pride will take place. We invite you to join and see for yourself that Sofia Pride’s goals are to achieve equality for all Bulgarian citizens,” the post said.
The fake banners episode is the latest in recent incidents against Sofia Pride, which have included its posters and billboards being vandalised, and disruption of Sofia Pride Film Festival events by ultra-right extremists.
Sofia Pride begins at 2pm on June 17 in the centre of Bulgaria’s capital city, in Knyazheskata Gradina, and includes a concert featuring popular musicians, followed by a procession through the streets of Sofia.
A media statement said that the theme of this year’s Sofia Pride, the 16th, is the diversity of families and the important role that the family has for LGBTI Bulgarians.
This year, all proceeds from the bars during the event will be donated to the reconstruction and maintenance of Rainbow Hub – the community centre of the LGBTI+ community in Bulgaria.
In 2021, during a trans community event, a minor politician and his followers attacked the Rainbow Hub.
The anniversary 15th Sofia Pride in 2022 gathered more than 12 000 people and organisers expect turnout this year to be larger, in spite of the rainy weather.
Support for the procession was expressed by dozens of Bulgarian companies and organisations, as well as the ambassadors and representatives from the embassies of 28 diplomatic missions, the media statement said.
Sofia Pride is organised by the GLAS Foundation, together with the Bilitis Foundation, LGBTI Deystvie and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. The event is supported by Bulgarian Fund for Women, US embassy in Bulgaria, Australian embassy, Absolut, Accenture, Delinian, Draft Kings, EY, Fashion Days, HP Enterprise, Ingram Micro, Mastercard, Progress, Paysafe, Sutherland, Walltopia and WorkNomads LAB Hotel, the statement said.
(Photo of Sofia Pride 2022: Tsvetomir Dimov)
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