Our friend Mitko is marching in a Pride parade this Saturday in Sofia, Bulgaria. It should be joyous, but last year it proved to be terrifying. After the march, he and his friends were attacked by a group of anti-gay extremists and beaten in the street just for daring to live openly.
This year the same extremist group has just been given a permit to hold a hate-filled gathering on the morning of Pride -- to gather, rev up, and attack again. They even have support from a local priest, who actually advised people to "throw stones" at the Pride participants1.
We only have 4 days and we need your help. Can you tell Sofia's Mayor to do everything in her power to protect Pride participants? If thousands sign, we'll focus global media attention on Bulgaria and preempt the violence. But we need your voice right now to move the only person with the power to stop the violent mobs:
Mayor Yordanka Fandakova needs to know the world is watching. Dozens of countries have already told Bulgaria to ensure a safe Pride2 - and while the march itself will have some police present, a violently charged protest scheduled to start a few hours ahead of Pride is a recipe for disaster. Our friends fear it will set the stage for fresh attacks on marchers and other Sofia residents in the area.
It's not going to be easy to stand up to these neo-Nazis or the Orthodox Church, whose representatives also said “democracy does not mean rights for minorities”. Upholding the right to peacefully march without threat of violence will send a message to extremists in Bulgaria and throughout Eastern Europe. It's time for Mayor Fandakova to step up and show that anti-gay protesters can’t be allowed to foster violence and inflict seriously bodily harm against their fellow citizens.
For decades, extremists have used Pride parades around the world to organize attacks that punish people for embracing who they are. But everytime, with help, we've been able to fight back - and win. Will you stand with Mitko and ask Mayor Fandakova to do everything in her power to protect Pride marchers from attacks this year?
Mitko Dimitrov and the All Out team
P.S. Please share this with your friends on Facebook after you sign, we need each and every voice before Pride on Saturday.