Between the 4th and 5th of July (Saturday going on Sunday), unknown individuals wearing masks set fire to the rainbow flag placed on the Walltopia facade as a symbol Pride Month and the LGBTI community. At around 2:35 on 05.07.2020, security cameras recorded two male individuals walking along the pedestrian bridge over Tsarigradsko Shose Blvd. The same people went down the stairs towards the Walltopia building. The two individuals were dressed in dark clothing with hoods and masks on.
At around 03:04, the footage shows four people, two of whom were already been recorded by the cameras half an hour earlier. All individuals were male, visibly young, dressed in dark clothing with hoods and masks (covering the nose and mouth). One of them holds an item on fire, similar to a torch, with a long handle. At 03:04:57, the recording shows two of the people from the group spraying the lower part of the flag, around 3.5 meters from the ground, with flammable liquid in water guns. Seconds later, at 03:05:00, the man holding the torch set the lower part of the flag on fire, then threw the burning device on the ground and ran away with the rest of the group.
The security guard at the building immediately started following procedure by calling 112 and reporting it, also calling colleagues from the security company who were patrolling around Sofia Tech Park. According to the security guards, police did not respond after receiving the report via the 112 phone number. Additional details are still being worked out.
The flag was placed on the Walltopia facade for a third consecutive year on the 9th of June 2020 to contribute to the Pride Month atmosphere and for the Sofia Pride Live event. The symbol of the LGBTI community is showcased traditionally in June on the facades of many national institutions in more liberal countries.
‘Dozens of Bulgarian citizens become victims of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. For some of these cases we do receive reports, others we find out about indirectly through acquaintances or friends, there are likely dozens more which remain unreported because victims are too scared to share. One of the reasons for this is that hate speech and hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are not pursued by the Bulgarian Criminal Code. For years, our organization has launched campaigns and has had discussions with national institutions about amending policies and legislation.’ says Att. Denitsa Lyubenova from Youth LGBT Organization Deystvie.
This burning of the flag is yet another blatant act of homophobia in Bulgaria. In 2019, four separate attacks on the Rainbow Hub community center were registered, resulting in a broken post box, a broken sign, a window broken with a thrown stone and a stolen rainbow flag.
‘The truth is that it is very important for us as a society to firmly stand against people who commit acts of hate and cause psychological or physical damage to other people because of their ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, and to demand legal action be taken against aggressors. Nobody wants to live in a country in which our fellow citizens are left unpunished to commit actions which cause fear and uncertainty and exhibit all signs of direct or indirect threat to all others in our society.’ comments Veneta Limberova, chairperson of Youth LGBT Organization Deystvie.
During the day of 10th of February 2019, a woman was attacked and hit with a fist in the face for no reason at the center of Sofia by a man who was around 40 years old, with the words ‘Worthless faggot…I do not want to see you in this part of town anymore.’
On the 12th of December 2018, a billboard in Varna with a photo of two men hugging with the slogan Nothing to be afraid of, this is just love was covered in black paint and torn apart.
In September 2008, the 25-year-old medical student Mihail Stoyanov was killed in the Borisova Gradina Park in Sofia. In their statements for the police, the killers stated that they were ‘cleansing the park from gay people’ and have systematically attacked men in the park they thought looked homosexual.
*The time shown on the security camera footage is Standard Time which is why there is an hour difference from what is stated in the press release.