Homosexuality is legal in Bulgaria but gay culture is very discreet as a result of prevailing macho attitudes and widespread homophobia. Same-sex relationships have no legal recognition and gay couples cannot adopt children or seek IVF treatment.
In common with other Eastern European countries, Bulgaria is a very conservative society. Discrimination is illegal, but many Bulgarians react negatively to open displays of affection between same-sex couples, and a depressingly high number consider homosexuality a mental illness. Attitudes, among younger people at least, are changing, and there are several gay clubs and bars in Sofia and small scenes in Varna and Plovdiv. There is an annual Gay Pride march in Sofia (www.sofiapride.org), although this has been the focus of protests and even violence in past years.
One of Bulgaria's biggest music stars, Azis, is an openly gay, cross-dressing Roma, who has spoken about the double discrimination he faces towards his sexuality and ethnicity.
For more information see www.gay.bg and www.gay-bulgaria.info.