Words: Alastair James; pictures: Twitter/@RobDixonHMA and @BilitisLGBTI
Britain’s ambassador to Bulgaria has condemned an attack on an LGBTQ centre in the country’s capital, Sofia.
Rob Dixon joined ten other ambassadors, including from France, Germany and Canada in criticising those who carried out the attack, believed to have been led by Boyan Rasate, who’s running as a presidential candidate in this month’s election.
According to the group running the venue, a dozen men and women stormed the centre during an active meeting on Saturday (30 October) assaulting an attendee and vandalising the property.
Dixon joined his fellow ambassadors in visiting the centre in the aftermath of the attack and he also tweeted that it was a “senseless attack,” while affirming his commitment to Bulgaria’s LGBTQ community.
Shocked to see results of senseless attack on Sofia’s #RainbowHub. UK 🇬🇧 stands with LGBTI+ people 🏳️🌈 right around the world. All people have the right to be themselves, and love who they want, free from violence and hatred. pic.twitter.com/HkvfvEd7CO— Rob Dixon (@RobDixonHMA) November 1, 2021
The Bilitis Foundation, which runs the centre, has accused Boyan Rasate of the far-right National Union and a presidential candidate in the elections due to take place on 14 November, of being involved in the incident.
Gloriya Filipova, who works with the Foundation, says she was punched by Rasate, who didn't deny involvement in the incident when speaking to Nova TV later on. He also said that the centre should expect this kind of action.
However, Rasate has had his political immunity (as a presidential candidate) removed by prosecutors following the incident. In 2008, Rasate arrested after disrupting Bulgaria's first-ever Pride event.
Euronews reports that prosecutors have identified someone by the initials "BR" as a "perpetrator" of a public order offence, which could lead to a five-year prison sentence.
It comes just days after an 8,000 strong petition was handed into the Ministry of Justice demanding the introduction of anti-LGBTI hate crimes to the Criminal Code, adding that hate crimes based on the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity are still not recognised in Bulgaria.
The Attitude Awards issue is out now.