Annual Review 2011
Bias motivated speech
- The Prime Minister made a number of homophobic comments throughout the year, stating in a public speech that “in our party we are normal people. [...] So we hope to be and not embarrass ourselves in old age,” and commenting on television about charges that he ruled with a firm hand, adding that it is “better with a firm hand, than with a limp wrist.”
- Sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in hate speech provisions or other parts of the Criminal Code. In June, the National Ombudsman recommended the criminalisation of offences committed with homophobic motives and sent his recommendation to the National Assembly and the Prime Minister. There had been no response by the end of 2011.
Bias motivated violence
- In March, two 22 year-old men were brutally beaten by a group of eight hooded men. According to the victims, the reason for the attack was the pink hair of one of the men, which presumably led the attackers to conclude that he was gay.
- In June, after the Sofia Pride march, five volunteers of the Pride organisation were assaulted by a group of five young men. Although the case was investigated by the police, no arrests had been made by the end of the year.
Equality and non-discrimination
In 2011, Bulgaria accepted recommendations during the UN Universal Periodic Review process to develop measures to overcome continuing discriminatory patterns against LGBT persons through education and training. Bulgaria took note of a recommendation to study the possibility of introducing a criminal aggravating factor in its hate crime legislation.
Freedom of assembly
The fourth annual Sofia Pride Parade was held. The event enjoyed wide support including the endorsement of eight foreign ambassadors. While the Town Hall did not officially endorse the Parade, it refused permission to a nationalist anti-LGBT group who wanted to demonstrate against the Parade on the same day. The Parade took place without any serious incident, with only one group protesting by handing out leaflets. Georgi Kadiev, a politician of the Bulgarian Socialists Party, attended.
Freedom of expression
- In March, MAD TV Bulgaria (a television channel which airs music videos), discontinued its discriminatory policy of censoring male same-sex intimacy in music videos following complaints from youth human rights defender group LGBT Deystvie and concerned viewers.
- Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court rejected an appeal from the Municipal Council in the city of Pazardzhik against the repeal of an ordinance which was targeted at LGB individuals, and which banned displays of homosexuality in public. According to the Court, the Pazardzhik City Council was engaged in direct discrimination, based on sexual orientation, against the residents and visitors of the city who are not heterosexual. The case had become a rallying point for a variety of anti-LGBT organisations and individuals.
In November, LGBT Plovdiv filed a complaint against the National Center of Haematology (NTSTH) following the printing and distribution of informational brochures on blood donations. The case was filed with the Commission for Protection against Discrimination on the grounds of direct discrimination based on sexual orientation, as, according to the brochure, people who “are homosexual or have sex with homosexuals” are not allowed to donate blood. The case is pending.