Amnesty International

Bulgaria: Presidential candidate must be investigated and held accountable after attack on LGBTI centre

Following a decision by the Central Election Commission at request of the Prosecutor General to revoke the immunity of Bulgarian presidential candidate Boyan Rassate, after he was involved in a violent attack on an LGBTI community centre this weekend, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Europe, Massimo Moratti, said:

“Boyan Rassate is reported to have been among those who attacked the Rainbow Hub Community Centre, destroying property and assaulting at least one person. The decision to revoke Boyan Rassate’s political immunity must be a first step in ensuring that all those behind this vicious attack are investigated and brought to justice.

“Bulgarian authorities must now take urgent measures to stop politicians and political parties from scapegoating the LGBTI community and make clear that this kind of violence has no place in politics. Crucially, they must amend the law to recognize homophobic and transphobic violence as hate crimes. There is no doubt that the attack on the Rainbow Hub Community Centre was motivated by hatred, and this appalling incident has exposed the shortcomings of Bulgaria’s laws and justice system.

“Rainbow Hub Community Centre is an initiative providing capacity building and support to the LGBTI community in Bulgaria to mobilise and advocate for their rights. We applaud their vital work defending LGBTI rights, and stand with them in the face of hatred.”

Background

On 30 October 2021, a group of around ten people led by Boyan Rassate, according to witness accounts, an ultra-nationalist Bulgarian National Union party politician running for the presidential office in elections planned for 14 November, interrupted a trans rights event at the Rainbow Hub Community Centre in Sofia. Rassate was recognised and identified by activists present in the venue.
Boyan Rassate punched a woman in the face and was armed with a knife which he used to slash the tyres of a scooter parked.

As a presidential candidate, he has political immunity, but this does not apply to any criminal activities. The immunity can be revoked by the Central Election Commission at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW CONTACT Stefan Simanowitz on [email protected]