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Billboards in Bulgaria Featuring LGBT Couples were Vandalised.

Billboards featuring LGBT+ couples and the slogan aItas not scary, itas just loveaDifferent People, Equal Rightsa have sparked controversy in Bulgaria, reports Pink News.A

The street posters were installed this week in various Bulgarian cities as part of a European Commission-funded project by a group of six Bulgarian non-governmental organisations, aimed at tackling homophobia.

They had the side effect of exposing anti-LGBT sentiment in the country.

The billboards featured LGBT+ couples hugging or holding hands in front of iconic Bulgarian buildings such as the National Assembly, the National Palace of Culture and the Ivan Vazov National Theatre.

They were due for display in the main cities in Bulgaria, such as the capital Sofia as well as Burgas, Varna and Plovdiv.

A aIt is not acceptable to have frank propaganda for homosexual relations.a

a Varna city councillor Kostadin Kostadinov

In Varna, one of the posters was covered in paint, as a picture widely shared on social media showed. The company who put up the billboards announced that it would be taking them down following complaints from the public.

Local media reportedA that some of the complaints were due to the billboards being displayed in the lead up to the Christmas festivities. In other cases, some people complained about the billboards being visible to children and forcing a conversation about LGBT+ rights.

Varna city councillor Kostadin Kostadinov denounced the billboards as apropaganda.a

Bulgaria is one ofA 14 European countriesA which maintain a constitutional ban on equal marriage, although aA Bulgarian court has backed the right of a lesbian married couple to reside in the country for the first time in aA landmark ruling in July this year.

Bulgaria: LGBT+ advocates petition local authorities for support

Bulgariaas LGBT+ advocates were surprised at the reactions to the campaign.

aWe did not expect it to cause such aggression, vandalism, and appeals to remove it. This is indicative of tolerance in society and the extent to which we are prepared to accept the different,a said Simeon Vassilev of the Glas (aVoicea)A Foundation, one of the campaign organisers, quoted inA Bulgarian news outlet BNR.

A

Vassilev defended the billboards from accusations of violating advertising codes.

a[The campaign]A does not promote hatred, does not incite aggression, it is not pornographic,a he said.

aThe reaction of hatred and vandalism on the other hand, the destruction of private propertyaIt is this aggression and homophobia thatA escalates to such a high degree.a

Reacting to the controversy, Bulgariaas LGBT+ campaigners wrote an open letter to the mayors of Sofia, Burgas, Varna and Plovdiv, asking them to show support for the campaign and to denounce and punish homophobic vandals.

aWe also call for you not to lend to the public pressure to remove billboards, as this would be an unlawful restriction of freedom of expression.A We hope to receive your support for the continuation and smooth running of the campaign scheduled for January 27, 2019,a read the appeal, which isA open for public signatures.

A

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Publication:Sofia News Agency
Geographic Code:4EXBU
Date:Dec 15, 2018
Words:503
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