Home » Bulgarian Supreme Court Rules Against Transgender People’s Rights

Bulgarian Supreme Court Rules Against Transgender People’s Rights

Citing the Bulgarian constitution’s view that sex is only biological, transgender people will no longer be eligible to change their documents in accordance with their identity, the Supreme Court ruled.

Rights activists predicted more cases being brought against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights after the Supreme Court of Cassation in Sofia ruled on Monday that transgender people will no longer be eligible to change documents in accordance with their identity.

“The constitution and Bulgarian legislation are built on the understanding of the binary existence of the human species,” the ruling said.

Twenty-eight judges voted in favour, but 21 expressed dissenting opinions. According to legal news website lex.bg, it was a rare case of an issue dividing the court so starkly.

The dissenting judges’ opinion said that the court’s decision imposed “a general, automatic and unified ban on legal gender change”.

They argued that “a legal change of gender is not in contradiction with the ‘binary existence of the human species’, because it does not refer to a ‘third gender’”.

Adela Katchaounova, legal defense programme director at the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, criticised the court’s decision as a populist ruling “in favour of an imaginary public interest”.

“It shows a clear line of regression in judicial thinking in Bulgaria. The European Court of Human Rights has spoken before against such a hard line from the Bulgarian courts, which often ignore personal feelings of humiliation and defencelessness,” Katchaounova told BIRN.

Katchaounova said that the majority of judges on the Supreme Court cited the lack of detailed legislation on what gender reassignment actually constitutes, and therefore ruled that all requests for changes in civil status registers must be rejected.

“This will trigger a wave of new cases against the country at the ECHR [in Strasbourg], possibly also in the European Court of Justice,” she warned.

Katchaounova said that she fears that the development will cause personal tragedies for the people who are affected, while not doing anything to protect traditional values or family structures as conservatives would like.

“Changing the gender of one person does not affect the rights of third parties and this is an incorrect line of reasoning that is not based on the facts,” she argued.

She noted that the court’s decision came after a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2021 that deemed the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe human rights intended to combat violence against women and domestic violence, as anti-constitutional for similar reasons.

“Now we have another case in which Bulgarian law is put above international law,” she said.

Activists and NGOs have been campaigning in Bulgaria for clear procedures so trans people can know under what conditions they can change their personal documents.

The lack of clear procedures has resulted in a long line of pending court cases.

“The current situation means that many of these cases will be forwarded to the ECHR,” said Katchaounova.

On February 12, the pro-Moscow Bulgarian Socialist Party called for a “referendum on gender ideology” and claimed that a draft law with amendments aimed at tackling domestic violence might introduce children to ideas that contravene Christian values.

On Tuesday, the Bulgarian Socialist Party congratulated the Supreme Court for ruling against trans rights.

“For us Bulgarians, the children and the family are of great value and the constitution and the rule of law stand above everything,” said party leader Kornelia Ninova.

source: balkaninsight