Alexander Sidi belongs to the nationalist VMRO party.

Bulgarian politician Alexander Sidi has told a press conference that he may use “illegal means” to stop an LGBTQ photography exhibition from being held.

The exhibition, Balkan Pride, is set to open in July in the city of Plovdiv and will feature pictures taken at Pride events across the Balkan states.

The event, which is being held as Plovdiv was named as the 2019 European Capital of Culture co-host, is also set to feature discussions and a concert.

Speaking at the press conference, Sidi said: “We don’t want them to do it. And we will stop them, using all legal – and, if required, illegal means.”

Other Bulgarian politicians also spoke on their opposition to holding the event. The Guardian reports Borislav Inchev, who belongs to VMRO-Plovdiv as saying: “This is the same as carrying out a gay pride parade in Plovdiv.

“I am very curious what would happen if a teacher made a mistake and sent her schoolchildren to see the exhibition. What would they see? How would she explain it?”

Steve Johnson

Politicians opposed to the exhibition are hoping to force Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva out of her role as municipal cultural foundation chief in a vote due to be held tomorrow. Their hopes are that this will force Plovdiv’s mayor to take action.

Svetlana spoke out over the plans to remove her, saying: “This could seriously damage the reputation and image that we’ve been building in the past five years. Such interference with the programme can only be treated as discrimination and censorship.”

Simeon Vassilev, a representative from the LGBTQ group Glas who organised the exhibition, slammed the politicians treating the event as something political.

“Politicians seem to not understand the content of a cultural product, and they fail to realize that the European Capital of Culture should not be politicized and filled with intrigues,” he said.

“The theme of Plovdiv 2019 is “Together”. Where is the togetherness at the moment?”

Related: Changing LGBTQ lives in Bulgaria: here’s how you can lend a hand