LGBT rights in Bulgaria

LGBT rights in Bulgaria
LGBT rights in Bulgaria
Location of  Bulgaria  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Bulgaria  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1968,
age of consent equalized in 2002
Gender identity/expression -
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex relationships
Adoption -
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections since 2003 (see below)

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.

Bulgaria, like most countries in Eastern Europe, tends to be socially conservative when it comes to such issues as homosexuality. However, the independent private media occasionally report on gay events, the national and the private television channels have cast films with gay themes, and gay-themed movies are shown in the cinemas. In addition, some famous Bulgarians have come out, suggesting that gay men and lesbians are becoming more visible in Bulgaria.

There are several active LGBT organisations in Bulgaria which promote and fight for equality of LGBT people in mainstream society. The gay scene in Bulgaria is small but vibrant and it is mainly concentrated in cities like Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv, and the major tourist resorts along the Black Sea Coast. Sofia boasts its own annual Gay Pride Parade with a growing number of participants each year. The sea city of Varna however continues to face strong opposition from local authorities and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in its attempts at staging a Gay Pride Parade.

Homosexual acts were decriminalized throughout the Ottoman Empire, including what is today Bulgaria, in 1858.[citation needed] 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 once again became punishable by at least 6 months of imprisonment.[1] The Penal Code of March 13, 1951 not only kept the penalty for gay sex but there stipulated an increase in the jail term, up to 3 years.[2]

The revised Penal Code of May 1, 1968 removed the sections regarding homosexual acts, thus rendering them legal again.


Summary table

Homosexuality legal Yes (since 1 May 1968)
Equal age of consent Yes (since 2002)
Anti-discrimination laws in all area Yes (since 2003)
Gay Pride Yes (since 2008)
Same-sex marriage(s) No
Recognition of same-sex couples as de facto couples or civil partnerships No (no recognition)
Joint and/or step adoption by same-sex couples No
Adoption by single homosexual people Yes
Gays allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes

Recognition of same-sex relationships

As of 2009, there is a debate about introducing same sex registered partnerships in Bulgaria. The Government has presented a new Family Code for Parliament's approval. The proposed bill envisions the institution of registered partnerships. However, as the text stands now, these partnerships will not include same sex couples. Bulgaria's Commission for Protection Against Discrimination, as well as numerous equal rights advocates have deemed this discriminatory and have demanded that registered unions be extended to both heterosexual and same sex couples. While the debate is still ongoing, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that a vote will take place before the June elections.

Discrimination protections

The 2003 Protection Against Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in various areas, including employment, the provision of goods and services, housing and education.[3][dead link]

Living conditions

Most of gay life in Bulgaria is set in Sofia but there are also a few gay clubs in cities like Plovdiv and Varna. A 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey recorded that 37% of Bulgarians think homosexuality should be accepted by society. A 2006 European Union poll shows 15% of Bulgarians support same sex marriage [1].

The main LGBT rights organization in Bulgaria is "Action" ( Deystvie in Bulgarian) [2]. The non - profit has over 1000 fans on Facebook [3] as of May of 2011. Between 1992 and 2010 the most active Bulgarian gay organisation was BGO Gemini It was a national advocacy organisation, non-profit public entity based on membership principle, founded in 1992. The mission of the organization was to reach inclusive social environment for homosexual, bisexual and transgender people in Bulgaria in all types of legal, social, cultural and economical discrimination and victimisation. It executed several successful anti-discrimination campaigns in recent years including the first gay pride in Bulgaria in 2008.

On June 28, 2008, about 150 people participated in Bulgaria's first ever gay pride parade in Sofia. The participants of the parade were attacked with a petrol bomb, rocks, and bottles of urine by right-wing groups and football hooligans, which had called for a "week of intolerance". The police handled the situation and no one was hurt. Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev stated he did not like "the manifestation and demonstration of such orientations."[4][5][dead link]. The 2009 pride went peacefully and had about 300 participants mainly from Bulgaria but also from Great Britain, Macedonia, and Greece.[citation needed] It was the first pride to be supported by foreign embassies and a political party.[citation needed] The third Sofia Gay Pride took place in late June 2010 and drew about 700 participants.[citation needed]

On 18 June, 2011, about 1200 people participated in the fourth gay parade in Bulgaria. There were several incidents, including a motorman who tried driving through the gathered crowd minutes before the parade started and also 5 beaten participants after the event had ended.

See also


External links

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