Sofia Pride: Investigation at request of people close to Bulgarian Socialist Party is harassment

Sofia Pride has slammed as harassment a formal investigation by prosecutors initiated at the request of the initiative committee, organised by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, that wants a national referendum against “gender ideology”.

The investigation is into a campaign ahead of the June 2023 Sofia Pride, which depicted families, both LGBTI+ and heterosexual, with the message: “Our family invites you to Sofia Pride”.

In a post on Facebook, Sofia Pride said that representatives of the GLAS Foundation and Bulgarian Helsinki Committee – co-organisers of Sofia Pride – were summoned by the Sofia regional Interior Ministry directorate to answer questions about “ the exact number of gay couples who participated in the campaign and the exact number of families of a man and a woman who entered into a legal marriage according to the constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as the families, who are not gay couples”.

“This is not an April Fool’s joke, but a text from the prosecutor’s investigation, which began at the request of the initiative committee for convening a referendum against ‘gender ideology’, organised by the BSP,” Sofia Pride said.

Sofia Pride said that almost two months after this year’s Sofia Pride, neither the police, nor the prosecutor’s office, nor the Commission for Protection against Discrimination had taken any steps in relation to vandalisation of “Our family invites you to Sofia Pride” billboards.

“Instead of investigating who splashed black paint, scrawled with insults and threats and tore up part of the ads, the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office has started checking whether the campaign threatens the established legal order in the country, whether it instills sexism and whether it presents the same-sex family as a higher value?!?,” Sofia Pride said.

It said that on August 9, two participants in the campaign – Galina and Elena – had been summoned to the Sofia regional Interior Ministry directorate “to explain why they allowed themselves to be photographed with their children and to claim that they are a normal and respectable Bulgarian family”.

“This is harassment that we will not tolerate. And in which, to our great regret, the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria became accomplices. We will take action to refer the international institutions and our partners,” Sofia Pride said.

The co-chairperson of the initiative committee for the referendum against “gender ideology”, Vladimir Sheitanov, told television station bTV that the billboards “violated public order”.

” The supreme interpreter of the constitution has pronounced what a family is. Families cannot exist in the form in which they are advertised on the posters ,” Sheitanov said.

The Sega news website reported on August 11 that the prosecutor’s office had opened the investigation on June 19 2023 that after receiving a report from the initiative committee on the referendum against “gender ideology”.

On the basis of its legal powers, the prosecutor’s office is obliged to appoint an inspection when it is referred with data on a possible crime, the prosecutors said.

Sega said that unofficially, investigators explained that the investigation aimed to find out whether children were put at risk by being photographed and placed on billboards, that is, whether children will be bullied by someone because of their parents’ choices.

The case of the vandalised billboards was also being investigated, the prosecutor’s office said. This investigation was at its own initiative, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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