HRW calls on Bulgaria to denounce anti-gay violence

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday sent a letter [text; press release] to Bulgarian Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva urging her to denounce calls to violence by anti-gay groups in anticipation of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride parade in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 30. HRW noted that religious leaders have called for violence and even stoning of individuals who participate in the parade. In the letter, HRW urged Kovacheva to protect LGBT individuals in Bulgaria from violence and incitements to violence that put pride parade participants in serious danger:

I urge you to publicly denounce the statements inciting hatred and violence against LGBT people. ... The call to stone gay people is incitement to hatred and violence, and it should be condemned by you in the clearest terms and in the most public way possible. ... Bulgaria, as a member state of the Council of Europe, is subject to [the] recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. ... There is no doubt that [the] call for stoning LGBT people falls under the category of hate speech that Council of Europe member states want to prohibit.
HRW further urged the government to investigate public calls to violence by individuals, suggesting this may be a violation of Bulgarian law.

Sexual orientation and LGBT rights are contentious issues in societies worldwide. Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said last week that the government was not discriminating based on sexual orientation [JURIST report]. The statement came days after the government had announced that it would ban at least 38 non-governmental organizations that are accused of recruiting children to homosexuality [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, a prominent Russian gay rights activist filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) challenging a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. Also this month, the ECHR ruled that a Moldova law banning gay groups from protesting in front of the country's parliament violated citizens' rights [JURIST report] to peacefully assemble and to be free from discrimination. Last month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released a report [JURIST report] concluding that in the US, incidents of hate-based murders against LGBT individuals increased in 2011.

 

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