SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Several hundred people have marched for gay rights in Bulgaria and protested against Russia's homosexuality policies.
The demonstrators, who walked peacefully through central Sofia on Saturday, were protected by hundreds of police officers after extremist groups urged their members to stop the event. The participants displayed colorful banners calling for love, equality and sexual diversity. They also chanted slogans condemning the Russian government's homosexuality policies. "To Russia With Love" read a sign carried by two women. A Russian law bans the spread of "propaganda" among minors of "nontraditional sexual relations."
Bulgaria, a Balkan country of 7.3 million people, joined the European Union in 2007, but gays and lesbians still face widespread hostility. The Orthodox Church has criticized the march, saying it undermines Christian traditions.