Pride has been canceled in Sofia capital of Bulgaria, due to fears that anti-gay extremists may attack the participants.
Organizers of Sofia Pride that was scheduled for tomorrow (22 June) say the event has been canceled due to the insistence of city’s municipality and the Interior Ministry.
Since peaceful protests against the appointment of a controversial media mogul as national security head began last week, extremist groups have staged counter-rallies, attempting to provoke protesters for freedom of speech and have clashed with them.
Local authorities expressed their concern that these extremists groups may violently attack the Sofia Pride parade.
Sofia Pride organizer Mihail Vuchkov has told local media that the event is likely to take place early in autumn, but did not specify a date.
In a statement, Pride organizes said that there was a ‘danger that our peaceful and pure intention might be used to cause unrest that will besmirch our common, peaceful civic conscience.
‘It would be egoistic and irresponsible to all of us if we knew of such danger and ignored it.'
The organizers insisted they had the full support of Sofia city hall to hold the Sofia Pride march at a later date and that the other LGBT events, including an art week and film festival, would go on as scheduled.
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), a human rights charity, criticized the decision to cancel Sofia Pride, saying that city authorities have pandered to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Sofia’s city hall warned that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church would react even stronger than usual against the Pride march as 22 June is one of the four days dedicated to commemorating the dead.
The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said last week that the parade ‘threatens the moral foundations of our society and our children’s health and the Bulgarian nation as a whole.’
The charity said that the Church’s position ‘should have been censured by the city hall, not served.
BHC said it found it ‘scandalous’, that while city hall asked to postpone Sofia Pride, it did not make a similar request to the organizers anti-gay counter protests.
‘The postponement of the Sofia Pride until an unspecified point in the future represents a dangerous precedent.
The argument about the risk of provocations can always be used – such danger has existed in the past and will in the future; it is the duty of the state institutions to defend civic rights and ensure that the peaceful march is held,’ read a statement by BHC.