Sofia Police Step Up Security as Gay Pride Nears
Security measures have been beefed up as this year's Sofia Pride is due this Saturday.
A program of events accompanied the Pride is already underway, with photographic exhibitions, movies, and exhibitions as part of what is known as the Sofia Pride Art Week.
This year's route of the parade will not be made public out of security grounds. Throughout much of Saturday afternoon there will be music, dancing and a mobile platform within Sofia's central area.
The Pride comes just days after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in the US city of Orlando which left dozens dead.
The incident has raised fears among the LGBT community, which has also voiced its concern over a decision by the Sofia municipality to give the green light to a protest against the event. The counter-demonstration now coincides with the Pride both in terms of timing and part of its route.
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, whose member Radoslav Stoyanov is also one of the Pride's organizers, has sent a letter to mayor Yordanka Fandakova calling on her to guarantee safety of the participants by delaying the beginning of the counter-event for later on Saturday.
The BHC claims the Sofia police tried to pressure Pride organizers into rescheduling the events to avoid any tensions with the counter-demonstration.
Saturday's LGBT parade has also been questioned by nationalist VMRO party, which has described it as a "provocation" as it coincides with the Christian holiday of Chereshova Zadushnitsa, one of the last key holidays that always falls on a Saturday before the Pentecost.
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