Thousands brave sweltering heat for Sofia Pride 2024

Thousands turned out on Alexander Battenberg Square in Bulgaria’s capital city on June 22, braving sweltering heat to celebrate Sofia Pride 2024.

This was the 17th year of Sofia Pride, an annual event to champion equal human rights for LGBTQ+ people.

It was the first time it was held in the square rather than around the now-dismantled Soviet Army Monument.

The theme of the event was “Bulgaria is also our home”, a reference to the theme of patriotism and national belonging in the context of the LGBTI+ community in Bulgaria and the people who support their rights.

There was a large police contingent to assist in providing security for the event, with the risk of provocations from homophobes.

Simeon Vassilev of the organising committee told local media: “For the 17th year in a row, Sofia will host the only Pride in the country, and for the first time we will have the opportunity for the iconic Battenberg Square to be the gathering place and the concert.

“We hope that the location of the new location, in the ‘triangle of power’, will make those in power listen more clearly to the demands of Pride, mainly for the legal regulation of the thousands of same-sex families in our country,” Vassilev said.

The “triangle of power” was a reference to the three nearby buildings housing the Presidency, the Cabinet office and Parliament.

Ahead of Sofia Pride 2024, a campaign to promote the event showcased eight successful professionals.

Among the personalities included in the campaign are cardiologist Dr Miroslav Angelov, veterinarian Dr Mila Bobadova, lawyer Dragomir Simeonov, folk dance teacher Clemon Bolo-Sukov, Mother Mila platform co-founder Krasimira Hadjiivanova, animal breeder and child health activist Nadezhda Rangelova-Boyadzhieva, social lecturer Simona Metodieva and health worker Alexander Milanov.

The Pride event was addressed by representatives of the organisers – the GLAS Foundation, LGBTI Action and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, with messages and a show of support on stage by foreign envoys participating in Diplomats for Equality.

Following the traditional concert, which started at 4pm and was being live-streamed on YouTube, the procession through the streets of central Sofia was to begin at 7pm.

The same day, there was a counter-event, a “March for the Family”. Participants included politicians: Roumen Hristov, leader of the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces, Mladen Marinov, an MP for centre-right GERB-UDF and a former interior minister, and Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of the pro-Kremlin party Vuzrazhdane.

As is customary, Sofia Pride was condemned by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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