Sofia Pride

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Sofia Pride Parade is a peaceful march of LGBT people and their relatives and friends, which combines social and political protest with entertaining elements. It takes place every year in the month of June in Bulgarias capital Sofia since 2008. The first Sofia Pride parade was held on June 28th 2008,on the same date as the Stonewall riots in New York City that occurred in 1969. Same-sex sexual activity became legal on May 1, 1968. Between 1968 and the collapse of communism in 1989, the country was ruled by a dictator, citizens were not free and therefore no gay movements or places of social gatherings existed. After democracy was reestablished in 1990, several gay bars and clubs opened doors in the capital of Sofia as well as in Varna and Plovdiv.

Some consider it the most massive public demonstration in support of human rights in Bulgaria, articulating a protest against xenophobia and a way to show LGBT friends and relatives love and support but also an inspiration for confidence and pride in LGBT people and all minorities who feel oppressed and suffer from society's prejudice. While the event is supported by many national and international partners and representatives of the diplomatic community in Bulgaria as well as Human Rights Organizations it also polarizes. Many citizens consider the Sofia Pride a provocation and unnecessary spectacle, claiming the whole event has little purpose at all but to offend.

In 1992 BGO Gemini, the up until then biggest gay non- profit organization in Bulgaria was founded thus giving gay people some representation and visibility. It ceased operations in 2009. The main LGBT rights organization in Bulgaria is "Action" ( Deystvie in Bulgarian) [1]. The non - profit has over 1200 fans on Facebook [2] as of January 2012. Sofia Pride has over 2000 fans on Facebook. [3]

Since 2012 the Sofia Pride is organized by a committee consisting of volunteers and independent NGOs. The administrative face of the event is Bilitis Resource Center Foundation.


First Sofia Pride[edit]

Forty years after being gay became legal, the very first Pride Parade came into existence. The first Sofia Pride parade, organized by the BGO Gemini, was held on June 28, 2008 and it was attended by some 120 people.Violence characterized the fist gay pride in the country. No one was hurt, but the attempt to attack the people participating in the pride proved the high level of hatred towards gay people. Before the parade 70 ultra nationalists and skin heads were already arrested by police.[1] The police was well organized and successfully prevented any casualties.

Second Sofia Pride[edit]

The second Sofia Pride Parade was held on June 27, 2009 with this time having no arrests and violence during the march. More people attended, in between 150 to 300. The second pride was very successful and people waved from the open windows of their homes, there was also less spoken political opposition towards the pride,[2] but at the same time Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) made an anti-parade statement (also BOC did in the first held parade) while few days earlier yong theologist from the Theologic Faculty of the University of Sofa made their anti-gay pride parade, for which they were vastly mocked, however public opinion paid attention to this even either (BOC also made impossible the introduction of domestic partnership in Bulgarian Family law the same year).

Ten foreign embassies (later 12) in Bulgaria were first to officially support the second Sofia Pride parade. The political party Bulgarian Greens ("Zelenite") officially supported the pride by issuing a statement of support on June 15, 2009.[3] Three days later the Bulgarian Socialist Youth declared its support too.[4]

Third Sofia Pride[edit]

The third Sofia Pride Parade took place on June 26, 2010. Over 700 participans attended, making it the biggest parade in the country to that date. For the first time a party represented in the Bulgarian Parliament issued a statement of support, being Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria as well as Bulgarian Greens ("Zelenite"), and the Bulgarian Socialist Youth.[5] The parade was the closing event of a one-week program of culture events, photo exhibition and discussions.

Fourth Sofia Pride[edit]

The fourth Sofia Pride took place on June 18, 2011 and drew over 1200 participants and the support of over 11 embassies. The parade ended with a concert in a park in the city center. No accidents were reported except for five men who attended and got attacked after the parade.

Political Support[edit]

On May 20, 2011, Georgi Kadiev, a Sofia City Consul Member and Socialist candidate for the mayoralty, issued a statement of support calling for a proclamation of support by the City Consul and the Mayor Yordanka Fandakova as well.[6] On June 13, a statement of support was issued by the Ambassador for The Netherlands to Bulgaria, Karel van Kesteren.[7] The British Embassy, which the pride march passes, flew the rainbow flag in support.

Fifth Sofia Pride[edit]

The fifth Sofia Pride parade took place on June 30, 2012. [4] More than 2,000 people participated.[8] The official slogan was "разкрий цветовете си" (Show your colors)Inviting LGBT people to overcome fear and shame imposed on them and stop hiding (being forced to hide) their sexual orientation from their families, friends and colleagues.

Political Support[edit]

The fifth Sofia Pride was supported by a joint statement of several foreign missions in Bulgaria issued by the Embassy of the United States of America to Bulgaria, signed by the Netherlands Embassy, German Embassy, British Embassy and 8 other missions to Bulgaria.

The Green party politician Volker Beck from the German Bundestag came in support of the event as well as the Ambassador of the British Embassy to Bulgaria Mr.Jonathan Allen and the US Ambassador at the time Mr. James Warlick.

Several Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human rights Watch were additionally supporting the event.

Sixth Sofia Pride[edit]

The sixth Sofia Pride was planned on June 22nd 2013, but got postponed until 21 September 2013 amid security concerns. 2013, the main theme was "Acceptance”. The slogan was “Различни хора, Равни права” (Diverse people; Equal Rights)

"Sofia Pride Art Week" and a Sofia Pride Film Festival featuring several films from around the world, focusing on the lives and concerns of LGBT people, went ahead as planned in the week before 22 June 2013. The Art week consists of a series of cultural events, exhibitions and discussion rounds on the topic of LGBT life.

Political Support[edit]

The sixth Sofia Pride was again supported by a joint statement of several foreign missions in Bulgaria issued by the German Embassy to Bulgaria, signed by the Embassies of Austria; Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, South Africa, Great Britain and the United States of America to Bulgaria.

See also[edit]

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