Sofia Pride 2021: Bulgarian Activists Endure Amidst Far-Right Attack Threats

“Unity makes us strong. Hate makes us weak.”


Sofia, Bulgaria’s 14th annual Pride celebrations on Saturday, June 12, occurred under strict security measures following a series of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks and threats made by conservative groups. The usual cheerful celebrations were marred by fear, with live music venues being secured with sturdy metal borders. 

Sofia experienced a barrage of homophobic assaults and protests in 2021, attributed to the far-right rhetoric propagated ahead of the July elections. On May 15, a conservative mob attacked the first-ever Pride event in Burgas- pelting demonstrators with smoke bombs and rocks and burning rainbow flags. Counter-protestors also disrupted LGBTQ+ events, including film screenings organized by Sofia Pride Film Fest and the GLAS Foundation. Pride billboards and venues were vandalized, while a string of violent homophobic assaults occurred in 2020. 


A post shared by Sofia Pride (@sofiapridebg)

The widespread fear amongst the Bulgarian LGBTQ+ community elicited global advocacy group All Out to launch a petition urging national authorities to safeguard 2021 Sofia Pride participants from “ultra-nationalist groups”. Barring a few registered counter-protests by nationalist orthodox and conservative groups, the parade was largely peaceful. Bulgaria’s national parliament building was illuminated in solidarity, displaying rainbow colors along with the message, “Unity makes us strong. Hate makes us weak.”


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