Bashing the Fash at Gay Pride, Sofia

July 4, 2015 by cosmoakacitizensmith

Block of flats next to the social centre

Block of flats next to the social centre

We arrive in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, in the middle of various shitstorms.

The social centre we are playing at, Adelante, is to close its doors the day after we play. It is a small building behind a block of flats and there have noise complaints about it. The locks have even been glued once or twice. Despite this, they have survive for over five years, but now they have to move on.

As well as that, far-right has been making trouble. An erroneous story in the press about Gypsies attacking people after they complained about noise has resulted in fascist street groups attacking a Gypsy area in Sofia which has now been surrounded by cops. There is also a Gay Pride

march due the next evening after we leave, and the fascists are preparing to hold a demonstration against it before it starts. Some of the activists we meet are planning to hold a counter demo, but they are worried because their numbers are so small.

“Last year, Pride was attended by about 200 people,” one activist explains. “There are LGTBQ people involved in the social centre and their own and other campaigns, but the wider LGTBQ movement is actually quite conservative. Bizarrely, an anarchist federation in Bulgaria denounced Pride as some kind of liberal deviation. But the wider anarchist movement here does not take them seriously. They are stuck in a time warp in Spain in 1936,” referring to the time when anarchists had control of large areas of that country during the civil war there.

Johnny Campbell in Adelante, Sofia

Johnny Campbell in Adelante, Sofia

The show that night happens in front of an anarchist Pride flag, and it goes really well, with local band Chobkin Victim on support. They are pretty wild and cover bands like Blackbird Raum. During our sets they dance and sing along and get the audience involved. As a result, we have a great evening and meet some really interesting people.

This includes a guy from Bristol was a mate of Jock Palfreeman, an Australian who is doing 20 years in prison in Bulgaria. Jock witnessed an attack on some Roma kids in Sofia by a gang and intervened. One of the gang was killed and it turns out he is a government minister’s son. This was in 2007, and Jock has been sentenced to 20 years, despite problems with the trial and evidence. Jock is now doing prisoner support work in Sofia prison. You can find out more about his case here.

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