60 arrests and petrol bomb attacks at Sofia Pride

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A heavy police presence ensured there were no injuries to the 150 participants at Sofia Pride in Bulgaria today.

More than 60 skinheads and rightwing nationalists were arrested and a homophobic mob threw petrol bombs, squid and stones.

150 police, the same number as the marchers, some in armoured police vehicles, managed to keep order.

Bulgarian National Union leader Boyan Rasate, who had organised a “week of intolerance,” was arrested.

“Rasate’s five-year old daughter, whom he brought with him to the anti-rally, was left alone and helpless after he was arrested and thrown in the back of one of the police cars,” reported www.novinite.com.

Straight supporters took part wearing t-shirts with the slogan: “Beware of whom you hate, it might be someone you love.”

Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in the 1960s, the age of consent was equalised in 2002 and anti-discrimination laws have been in place since 2003.

Gay rights group Gemini’s website claims the country has some of the best anti-discrimination legislation in Europe.

Social acceptance of homosexuality in Bulgaria, however, still has a way to go.

Recognition of gay rights is mostly confined to the large cities and among young people.

Research conducted last year found that only 17 per cent of Bulgarians “can freely communicate with gay people.”

There is still progress to be made on the legal front too, as same-sex unions have not yet been recognised.