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First national
gay festival in Bulgaria stirs angry reaction

First national
gay festival in Bulgaria stirs angry reaction

The first national gay festival in Bulgaria has opened in the port city of Varna, organizers said Wednesday, but it met with an angry reaction from the Orthodox Church and the local community. "This is the first national gathering of gay people in Bulgaria...and we wanted to accompany it with a public awareness campaign," said Desi Petrova of the Bulgarian Gay Organization Gemini. "However, we were told to cut off public events, to stay neatly closed indoors." Gemini had initially planned to erect two tents--dubbed "pink points"--in downtown Varna to distribute information leaflets to passersby, but Mayor Kiril Yordanov banned the initiative, saying it could not be defined as a "cultural event" as required by law. The mayor's decision followed a sharp reaction against the gay festivities by the Orthodox Church, which headed the protests of the local conservative community. "Such public gatherings push young people into low moral behavior and destroy Orthodox Christian values," Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Varna, said. A conservative committee called Orthodox Values threatened protest demonstrations if the gay festival was allowed to go public. Petrova said the festivities would go on as planned in private clubs through August 27 but that the Gemini would consider filing discrimination suits against the leaders of the Orthodox Values committee. Bulgarian legislation bans any discrimination against gays, but they often face hostile attitudes from the traditionally conservative society. (AP)

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