The city of Plovdiv, in Bulgaria, has found itself at the center of a homophobia scandal, after officials have been vocal about their disgust with the head of the organizing committee, who recently commissioned an LGBT photo exhibition.
Due to open in July, the exhibition is entitled “Balkan Pride.” The Bulgarian city is due to co-host the 2019 edition of the European capital of culture with Matera in Italy.
Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, the municipal cultural foundation head, initially gave the approval for the series to be shown. She told The Guardian that opposition to the exhibition “could seriously damage the reputation and image that we’ve been building in the past five years,” later accusing those opposing it of discrimination and censorship. The exhibition is scheduled to feature photographs from gay pride events of previous years, as well as playing host to a concert and an open discussion forum.
Alexander Sidi, an MP from the nationalist VMRO party, said: “We don’t want them to do it. And we will stop them, using all legal and, if required, illegal means.” VMRO is one of the three ultranationalist parties currently in government in Sofia.
The city council are due to debate today whether to sanction and remove Kuyumdzhieva.
Homophobia is a recurring issue in Bulgaria, with LGBT community centers consistently victim to acts of vandalism.