An MP coined the “Donald Trump of Bulgaria” has called for politicians in the country who are gay to be outed to the public.
Veselin Mareshki, who has likened himself to the American president, was appointed in parliament in March as part of a populist party.
Since being elected to his seat, the politician and businessman has pushed for other members of parliament to reveal their sexual orientation.
“I do not understand why homosexuals in power hide. Maybe they consider this something shameful,” the MP said, noting that “as free people they march on the squares” and “want to be seen”.
Mareshki also claimed that closeted gay MP’s could cause a “conflict of interest” when it comes to legislation.
He also said that those who are not open about their sexual orientation could be “dependent on people who have secret recordings of their activities”.
The populist said that this blackmail could lead to a war between Bulgaria and Russia, and the only way to prevent this would be through forcing parliamentarians out of the closet.
Mareshki’s comments have been condemned by LGBT activist Radoslav Stoyanov, who is organising this year’s Pride event in Sofia.
“His statement carries the message that gay people have to be deprived of political representation and should not be in power,” he explained.
However, Stoyanov and other activists believe that the outrage will not have any impact on the outcome of Mareshki’s comments.
“We will not see any [political] reaction because maybe they [political parties] consider this as something normal,” Stoyanov said.
Bulgaria is still rife with homophobia.
Just five years ago, an Orthodox priest called for participants in the annual Pride march in Sofia to be stoned.
Father Evgeni Yanakiev of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to which most Bulgarians belong said: “Our whole society must in every possible way oppose the gay parade that is being planned. For this reason today I appeal to all those who consider themselves Christians and Bulgarians. Throwing stones at gays is an appropriate way.”
The right-wing nationalist party in the country also attempted to introduce a draft bill to ban gay pride marches.
Ataka introduced the bill which stated that “No meetings or demonstrations can be held with the purpose of public display of homosexual orientation or affiliation.”
It came after a previous, similar amendment was rejected by the Bulgarian Parliament last week because it violated EU Human rights regulations.