Tables and shelves overturned, documents in shambles on the ground, broken equipment… The published photos on Facebook testify to the violent and brief assault that took place on Saturday, October 30, on the premises of Bulgaria’s main LGBT center, the Rainbow Hub. Neo-Nazis led by a candidate for the Bulgarian presidential election of November 14, Boyan Rasate, violently ransacked the small offices located in the heart of the capital, Sofia, where LGBT NGOs regularly meet (lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender) Bulgarian.
“There were seven of us at an event with transsexuals when the group infiltrated after ringing the doorbell”, says Gloria Filipova, 29, project manager of the Bilitis association, which was present at the time of this homophobic assault with unprecedented violence. “It was a group of ten people. I immediately recognized Boyan Rasate, who hit me before the rest of the group started breaking things up. It lasted less than two minutes ”, she assures. Mr. Rasate also allegedly threatened her with a knife before fleeing before the police arrived.
Guest on a television set, Monday 1is November, Boyan Rasate did not want to answer the questions, just talking about “Two tables and three shelves pushed” and to denounce “What is happening in these associations” which he assimilates to pedophilia.
“Ban political parties”
Notorious admirer of the pro-Nazi Bulgarian defense minister of the 1930s, Hristo Lukov, Mr. Rasate, 50, is the leader of the far-right microparty Bulgarian National Union-New Democracy, which notably proposes “To ban political parties”. He had already violently demonstrated against the first Gay Pride organized in Bulgaria in 2008, which had earned him a conviction to follow a rehabilitation program for six months.
This attack looks like “a desperate attempt to get some attention”
If he is a recognized figure of the homophobic scene, his political audience remains confidential in Bulgaria. He certainly obtained the 2,500 signatures necessary for his candidacy, but he is not even evaluated by the polling institutes for the ballot. This attack looks like “A desperate attempt to get some attention”, thus estimates Mme Filipova, who nevertheless denounces “The anti-LGBT actions carried out by the extreme right during each election”.
Beyond Mr. Rasate’s party, a myriad of far-right parties are indeed thriving by targeting homosexuals or transgender people. As elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, the climate has hardened in recent years for LGBT associations, especially after the multiple controversies surrounding the Istanbul Convention on violence against women. Never ratified, this text of the Council of Europe had aroused the strong rejection of the Bulgarian extreme right, but also of the very conservative local socialist party, because it contains the word of « genre ».
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In Bulgaria, an LGBT center ransacked by a far-right presidential candidate