Bulgarian Prelate Awards Viciously Anti-Gay City Officials as ’Defenders of Christianity’
A Bulgarian Orthodox bishop has awarded two anti-gay officials of the city of Pazarzhik with church honors for their legal attacks against gays.
According to a Sept. 6 article at Novinite.com, Bishop Nikolay denounced this year’s Pride parade in Sofia, and gave the church’s highest honor, Holy Apostle Hermas, to the mayor of Pazardzhik, Todor Popov, and the city’s prosecutor, Stefan Yanev, for attempting to outlaw any “public expressions of sexuality,” a law that reportedly targeted gays. The law was put onto the books in July, but struck down in August by the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office, located in Sofia.
Bishop Nikolay gave a speech on the occasion of presenting the church medals to the city officials on Sept. 6. “There is something called public morality,” declared Nikolay. “The society is not obliged to watch how somebody is sticking into its eyes their own travesty, and to watch how somebody is destroying the souls of our children, and pours poison into the very idea about the sanctity of the bond between a man and a woman that forms a family.”
The bishop continued, “The job of the church is to condemn the devil when he tries to destroy this holy order.” Nikolay also spoke out once more against the gay Pride parade in Sofia, saying, “The Holy Synod is resisting decisively any public and shameful demonstration of sodomic sin that destroys the traditional foundations and values of the Bulgarian people and brings enticement into the views of our children and youth.”
The article noted that prosecutor Yanev “compares homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality with pedophilia, zoophilia, gerontophilia, necrophilia, and fetishism, as he considers all of those forms of sexual orientation.”
Bulgarian gay equality group LGBT In Action responded to the prosecutor’s attempt to criminalize “expressions of sexual orientation” with the statement, “Yanev’s ignorance is his own problem but it also turns into the problem of 120 000 people living the Pazardzhik Municipality when he uses it to interpret rules and legislation that he apparently did not even read.”
In an earlier article from Aug. 20, Novinite.com declared that Nikolay had “All but call[ed] for theocracy,” quoting from a statement issued by the bishopric that praised Yanev. “With his professional position, Prosecutor Yanev has shown that when looked at through the prism of common values, law and morality can be in harmony with each other, which harmony lies in the foundations of the Orthodox understanding of a legal order based on faith in Christ and the norms of public propriety and order confessed by Christians,” the statement declared.
The news site noted that Yanev declared that heterosexual expressions of sexuality should also be illegal, but that he set sexual minorities apart as being “unnatural.”
A Wikipedia article on Bulgaria and LGBT equality notes that in 1858, gay sex was decriminalized throughout the Ottoman Empire, of which Bulgaria was part at the time. When Bulgaria became independent, the nation re-criminalized gay sexual contact in 1896; a revision to that law in 1951 punished gays with three years in prison for erotic encounters. However, gay sex was decriminalized once more in 1968. Social attitudes continue to be hostile toward gays, although some progress has been made in recent years, including the public disclosure by leading Bulgarians of their own homosexuality.