Over the past month, the LGBTI community has been the target of a variety of homophobic attacks:
15 May Burgas Pride - Love is stronger than hate - attacked and surrounded by over 300 defenders of "traditional values".
25 May - the presentation of MRAVIN | Is the little ant too late or too late? At The Steps - attacked and surrounded by defenders of "traditional values"
May 27 - The presentation of two books by the LGBT Youth Organization "Deystvie" at Radio Plovdiv - attacked and surrounded by defenders of "traditional values".
30 May - Premiere of "Shells" - the new short film by Slava Doycheva - an organised group of about 40 youths wearing "Lukovmarsh" and "BNS" masks set up in the hall and made an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the screening.
They reminded us that hate crimes and incidents based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression will continue to happen until the laws and attitudes of those in power in our country change. But what needs to happen for that change to occur? Political will?
We share with you the emotional words of Adv. Denitsa Lyubenova, who commented on the political apathy:
"The representatives of ... are silent because, you see, it was too early to talk about the rights of the LGBTI community. And while you are silent some people are losing their lives. Then pray they are your voters! Silence equals acceptance! Silence equals approval! Silence equals violence!
Bulgaria will never be able to do more if we turn a blind eye to human rights. Because there were children trapped in those halls, and you remain silent, no problem!"
On May 27 we presented the books "The Courage to Be: The Power of Right" and "The Courage to Be a Parent" in the building of Radio Plovdiv. It was attended by LGBTI parents, their children and community members.
Although there were police outside the building who were responsible for the safety of our event participants, they did not stop the invasion of 20 hooded men who started to beat our team and take the books from the guests.
The situation proved extremely stressful for the youngest of attendees. After the delayed intervention of law enforcement, the aggressors were escorted to the front entrance of the radio station, where they remained for another hour and a half, blocking the ability of others wishing to join the book presentation.
See the commentary of Veneta Limberova, chairperson of the "LGBT Youth Organization "Deystvie": https://bit.ly/3yY6Uvu
Why do LGBTI people need protection from discrimination crimes?
Bulgaria is a country governed by the rule of law and equal treatment of people is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, there are a number of loopholes in our legislative framework which create the conditions for unequal treatment of Bulgarian citizens with homosexual orientation, trans and intersex persons.
The biggest problem we have seen in recent weeks concerns hate crimes with a discriminatory motive of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Hate crime laws are laws that are put in place to suppress or punish bias-motivated crimes. The motive accompanying the commission of a hate crime may be directed at a group of persons or individuals who are part of a minority group in society because of sexual orientation or other defining characteristic defined by law.
The severity of this type of crime is so great because it is directed against the entire LGBTI community, not against the individual. The step to escalate the situation and witness violence is very small. And LGBTI people right now, especially in the month of Pride, are walking on the edge of a blade.
The aim of Action's work in recent years has been to amend Articles 162 and 163 of the Penal Code and include an additional protected characteristic of sexual orientation and gender identity. Creating additional paragraphs to Art. 116 para. 1 of the Criminal Code and Art. 131 para. 1 of the Criminal Code to include a qualified composition of murder committed with a discriminatory motive of sexual orientation and gender identity and causing grievous bodily harm with a discriminatory motive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We appeal to all members of our community to come together in this tense situation. Come out on June 12 at the Soviet Army Memorial in the city and let's celebrate our identities together!
LGBT Youth Deystvie's legal program provides free legal assistance and advice to LGBTI people. We can be easily contacted through our online legal platform.
From May 2021, the work of the Legal Programme is also supported by the Equal Rights in Action Fund.