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‘Bulgarian Donald Trump’ Wants Gay Politicians Outed

Ahead of next week’s pride parade, one parliamentarian suggests homosexuality is a conflict of interest for politicians.

lgbtq bulgaria
lgbtq bulgaria

A member of Bulgarian parliament said in a television interview on Friday that legislators should have to reveal their sexual orientation as a potential form of conflict of interest.

Veselin Mareshki, who came to parliament in March as part of a populist party, said that closeted parliamentarians could be “dependent on people who have secret recordings of their activities,” and that such blackmail could even lead Bulgaria to war with Russia. (Ironically, the “blackmail” logic was used for years, without proof, to prevent gay Americans from getting security clearances, until then President Bill Clinton ended the practice over two decades ago.)

Mareshki, who has described himself as the “Bulgarian Donald Trump,” mused that perhaps gay people feel the need to hide their sexual orientation because they are ashamed.

A member of Bulgarian parliament said in a television interview on Friday that legislators should have to reveal their sexual orientation as a potential form of conflict of interest.

Veselin Mareshki, who came to parliament in March as part of a populist party, said that closeted parliamentarians could be “dependent on people who have secret recordings of their activities,” and that such blackmail could even lead Bulgaria to war with Russia. (Ironically, the “blackmail” logic was used for years, without proof, to prevent gay Americans from getting security clearances, until then President Bill Clinton ended the practice over two decades ago.)

Mareshki, who has described himself as the “Bulgarian Donald Trump,” mused that perhaps gay people feel the need to hide their sexual orientation because they are ashamed.

Given that just five years ago a Bulgarian Orthodox priest called for participants of Sofia’s pride march to be stoned, shame is likely not the reason some gay parliamentarians do not want to reveal their sexual orientation.

LGBTQ rights activists condemned Mareshki’s comments. Radoslav Stoyanov, who is organizing this year’s pride parade in Sofia, told Balkan Insight, “His statement carries the message that gay people have to be deprived of political representation and should not be in power.” However, he does not think that activist outrage will turn into political action, given that mainstream political parties in Bulgaria are unsupportive of initiatives that might further gay rights in the country.

Lest one think that controversy over politicians posture toward LGBTQ rights is limited to Eastern Europe: Trump — the American, not Bulgarian version — made headlines by not recognizing June as Pride Month, unlike his predecessor U.S. President Barack Obama. His predecessor, George W. Bush, didn’t recognize it either, but he opposed gay marriage, which Trump, shortly after his election, noted was already the law of the land.

Photo credit: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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