LGBT rights in Bulgaria
|LGBT rights in Bulgaria|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1968,
age of consent equalized in 2002
|Gender identity/expression||(see below)|
|Military service||Gays and lesbians allowed to serve|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation protections in all areas since 2003 (see below)|
|No recognition of same-sex relationships|
|Adoption||Single gay people can adopt|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Bulgaria may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Bulgaria, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.
- 1 Laws against homosexuality
- 2 Discrimination protections
- 3 Recognition of same-sex relationships
- 4 Living conditions
- 5 Summary table
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Laws against homosexuality
Following the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, the country's own penal code came into force on May 1, 1896, and homosexual acts between males over 16 years of age became punishable by at least 6 months of imprisonment. The Penal Code of March 13, 1951 increased the penalty to up to 3 years in jail. The revised Penal Code of May 1-st 1968 removed the sections outlawing homosexual acts.
July 1964 trial
In July 1964, 26 men were arrested and accused of having "perverted homosexual relationships". Some of the arrested were the famous actor Georgi Partsalev & one of the most loved Bulgarian singers Emil Dimitrov. Experts say that the process was a masquerade for the public so that "people will understand how decadent the Western culture is". In the 60-s there were a couple of other similar cases which again involved some of Bulgaria's elite.
Later, in 1966, when revising the Penal Code, a group of experts decided that homosexual acts will no longer be considered a crime, since lesbians and gays "are ill people, who shouldn't be punished because of the sufferings they are already going through (due to their illness)". On May 1-st 1968 the new Criminal Code came into force and legalized homosexual acts.
Since 2003, the Protection Against Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination & hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation in all areas. An amendment to the law that wоuld protect from discrimination transgender people & people who have changed their gender is expected to enter parliament. In the upcoming revision of the Criminal Code hate crimes against LGBT people will be criminalized.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
In 2012 on the question if gay couples will soon have further rights like the right to marry or adopt children, the former prime minister Boyko Borisov said: "for something [like this] to happen, society needs to become ready for it." Since 1991 the Constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Transsexuals and intersexuals in Bulgaria
There is no official data of the Bulgarians who have legally changed their gender. When a person undergoes sex reassignment surgery he/she must change his/her passport, drivings license, personal identity document, birth certificate and uniform civil number in order for them to match his/her new sex. One cannot undergo a surgery unless going to a trial and receiving a positive court's decision. However without undergoing a surgery a person can't change his/her legal gender in any official document. There are no laws regulating the sex change procedures, which are mostly done by private clinics at very high prices.
An amendment to the 2003 Protection Against Discrimination Act is expected to enter parliament. The amendment will protect transgender people and people who have undegone a sex reassignment surgery. Also gender could be used from the list of protected grounds. Gender expression and gender identity are not protected by the revised new Penal Code. From the LGBT group the transgender people are the most marginalized ones. To date many people in the country think transsexual and transvestite are the same thing.
Intersexuals in Bulgaria are even more marginalized and invisible in the society than the transgender community. To date the mass of Bulgarians wrongly use the word hermaphrodite rather than the correct term intersexual. There is no data of the number of intersexual babies born in the country. The standard procedure in a case of an intersexual child birth is the removal of the male genitalia, due to the fact that it is an easier operation than the one removing the female genitalia. The parents are rarely informed of the damages this could later cause to the child's gender identity. There are no laws concerning intersexuality.
In November 2009 the city council of Pazardzhik voted "for" article 14, which forbade the "Public demonstration of sexual or any other orientation." LGBT organizations attacked the decision of the council, saying it was discriminative. In October 2011 the Administrative court in the city ruled out that the text was illegal.
A 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey recorded that 37% of Bulgarians think homosexuality should be accepted by society, but the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey recorded that acceptance had risen to 39%. A 2006 European Union poll shows 15% of Bulgarians support same sex marriage. According to a survey carried out in 2007 by the Bulgarian sociological agency Skala 42.4% of Bulgarians would not like having a homosexual friend or colleague. 46% answered that it would be unacceptable if their own child was gay/lesbian. A survey from 2012 shows the number of people who wouldn't like having a homosexual colleague has dropped to 38%. The survey also shows that Bulgarians are more tolerant towards lesbians rather than gay men. 26% of the respondents wouldn't hire a lesbian.
LGBT rights organizations
The main LGBT rights organization in Bulgaria is LGBT Deystvie (Bulgarian: ЛГБТ Действие). It was founded in 2010 and today is the main organization protecting the rights of LGBT in the country. It is based in Sofia. LGBT Deystvie also organizes the Sofia Pride & group theraphies for LGBT youth.
Bilitis (Bulgarian: Билитис) is the second largest organisation of such type in Bulgaria. Founded in 2004 it protects the rights of lesbian & bisexual women and transgender people. Bilitis has projects around the country.
The only pride parade to take place so far in Bulgaria is Sofia Pride. The first parade took place in 2008 and drew about 150 participants, who were attacked with petrol bombs, rocks, and glass bottles. More than 60 hooligans were arrested. The pride parades in the following years went on peacefully and started drawing more participants and the support of political parties & embassies. In 2012 there were 1,500 participants, a movie program, open air concert & an art festival.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church strongly opposes any forms of manifestation like the pride parades, calling them a "sinful demonstration" & a "sin of Sodomy". Before the 2012 Sofia Pride a priest from Sliven said in an interview before a newspaper that "gays should be beaten with stones".
|Homosexuality legal||(since 1968)|
|Equal age of consent||(since 2002)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all areas||(since 2003)|
|Laws against hate speech||(since 2003)|
|Laws against hate crimes||(proposed, to be voted by parliament)|
|Laws protecting transgender people|
|Same-sex marriage||(marriage defined as "a union between a man & a woman")|
|Recognition of same-sex marriages/civil unions conducted abroad|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Joint and/or step adoption by same-sex couples|
|Adoption by single homosexual person||(single men are rarely allowed to adopt, no matter the sexual orientation)|
|IVF for lesbians||(only for married couples)|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples||(illegal for heterosexual couples also)|
|Gays allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- Bulgarian Penalty Code of 1896
- Bulgarian Penalty Code of 1951
- http://www.blitz.bg/article/2580 Psychiatrist Todor Bostandzhiev talks about the "gay trial" and the new Penal Code
- http://lex.bg/laws/ldoc/2135472223 Law for protection against discrimination - in force since 2003
- http://btvnews.bg/article/bulgaria/politika/optsiyata-za-smyana-na-pola-sprya-priemaneto-na-promeni-v-zakona.html (Bulgarian)
- http://www.sofiapride.info/2012/05/09/predi-obed-btv-pyrvi-detayli-za-sofia-pride-2012/ Interview about the organization of Sofia Pride 2012 and the fight for gay rights in Bulgaria
- http://ilga-europe.org/home/publications/annual_review/2011 ILGA-Europe 2011 Annual Report - Bulgaria section
- http://www.lex.bg/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=14015&sid=d7d58aa7729c7e52cb7000e57746ea1b&start=20 Forum discussion about transsexuality & sex change
- http://www.legalworld.bg/34069.zakonyt-shte-zashtitava-ot-diskriminaciia-i-horata-smenili-pola-si.html The law will protect from discrimination people who have changed their gender (Bulgarian)
- http://www.justice.government.bg/new/Pages/Bills/Default.aspx Laws being revised by Bulgaria's Justice Ministry; on 09.04.2012 is the new Criminal Code project
- http://www.bilitis.org/news/1/88/ Discussion about transsexuality and intersexuality in Bulgaria
- http://www.bilitis.org/news/1/88/ Discussion about transsexuality and intersexuality in Bulgaria
- http://www.razkritia.com/131864/%D0%B1%D1%8A%D0%BB%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%8A%D1%82-%D0%BD%D0%B5-%D1%89%D0%B5-%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%B9%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B5-%D0%B8-%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%B8-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B3/ Results from the survey, published in an online article
- http://www.vesti.bg/index.phtml?tid=40&oid=1212757 60 hooligans arrested during Bulgaria's first ever pride parade
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LGBT in Bulgaria.|
- LGBT youth organisation Deystvie
- Bilitis Foundation
- GamaNews.bg — Bulgarian language LGBT news webservice
- Bulgarian Gay Guide
- Bulgarian Lesbian Social Network