what's happening in bulgaria?

last updated: 17 aug

Over the past month, Bulgaria has been shaken by a wave of anti-government protests with thousands marching through multiple big cities "against a mafia model of governance".

They allege endemic corruption and want the resignation of PM Boyko Borissov, his centre-right government and the chief prosecutor - Ivan Geshev. Apart from the resignations of the Cabinet and Geshev, the protesters’ demands also include remote and machine voting and the convening of a Grand National Assembly to discuss changing Bulgaria’s constitution.

Borissov, after first announcing that he was ready to resign right away, he then decided to push through to the end of his third term in the spring of 2021.

Corruption in bulgaria occurs in:

In the field of state administration (state departments, local authorities, etc.):

Here the manifestations of corruption are most pronounced. The main mechanism by which it acts is to put pressure on employees or to take corrupt actions on the part of citizens in order to solve their specific problem. Over the years, customs officers and police officers have formed here as the most at-risk groups;

Political corruption:

The political class must put in place mechanisms to curb corruption and create an institutional and legal environment that is unfavorable to the spread of corruption. The widespread spread of corruption at this level undermines the foundations of a democratic society. Political corruption manifests itself in two main forms. One is the draining and accumulation of resources from the private sector and from national wealth. The other form is corruption to retain and expand power. It occurs in political decision-making and in the electoral process;

In the judiciary:

Corruption here is mainly related to covering up a crime or misdemeanor and has the effect of thwarting the punishment that the perpetrator must bear. The main participants are lawyers, prosecutors and judges;
In the field of public services (healthcare, education, social assistance, etc.). The main form of corruption in this area is the payment of free services for citizens. It has more serious manifestations in the provision of medical services. Corruption is assessed as high in the field of education and especially in higher education;

In the private sector:

Corruption here often does not gain publicity. The main way they are done is through the abuse of employees who have to make specific decisions. For example, it depends on them where exactly computers, desks, which advertising agency to hire or, in general, the conclusion of larger deals will be bought. The very act of corruption is when choosing an offer with less favorable conditions for the company and receiving a commission from the employee. The negative consequences of corruption in the private sector can also reach the consumers of the respective product or service, to which the company transfers its increased costs. When such a practice becomes widespread, it has an extremely bad impact on the entire business environment. The characteristic indicators of corruption here are the rapid rise in prices accompanied by a sharp decline in quality;

In the third sector (non-governmental organizations):

The spread of the tentacles of corruption in this sector has a detrimental effect. It is the organizations in it that are expected to make the greatest contribution to the fight against corruption itself by exerting civic pressure. The penetration of corruption here closes the circle of its spread.

Thirteen years after joining the EU, Bulgaria remains the most corrupt country in Europe, according to the NGO Transparency International.

In Bulgaria since hate crimes committed with homophobic and transphobic motives were not defined in law as constituting hate crimes, they could not be persecuted or punished as such, as reported by Amnesty International.

As for transgender people in Bulgaria, there is only one law which mentions sex-reassignment; the person has to apply for new documents within 30 days of the surgery. (Law for Bulgarian Documents 2007, Article 9). The Bulgarian Military and Ministry of Defense considers being transgender to be a sexual disorder, making Trans persons 'unfit' for service. This does not extend to homosexuals.

There is no legal definition of the concept of transgender in any Bulgarian law. Bulgarian legislation also lacks any regulations and procedures concerning the establishment of the status of a person who wishes to undergo sex reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment to that effect. Bulgarian law does not prohibit hormonal treatment and surgery with the aim of sex reassignment. Anti-discrimination law is not specific concerning transgender people, giving no indication as to whether discrimination against them is to be considered on sexual orientation grounds or on grounds of gender. As a result, transgender people are insufficiently protected under Bulgarian anti-discrimination law.

In 2013, an LGBT film festival taking place in Bulgaria’s second largest city, Plovdiv, was disrupted by soccer hooligans reporting the festival as 'gay propaganda.' The response from the mayor of the city was not to defend LGBT rights, but a statement that he was 'opposed to all events that divide the city of Plovdiv.' Reportedly police did not intervene until day five of the festival, when protest signs and equipment were destroyed, and one protester assaulted.

Amnesty International has documented many cases of LGBT individuals who have been violently targeted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, hate crimes against LGBT individuals—including beatings, rape and murders—remain inadequately investigated and prosecuted.

Victims of these crimes are selected by the perpetrators on the basis of a real or perceived identity-related characteristic such as sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite Bulgaria’s obligations under international and regional human rights standards to combat all forms of discrimination, the domestic framework is currently ineffective in tackling homophobic and transphobic hate crimes. The current Bulgarian Criminal Code does not explicitly mention protected characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender identity or disability as grounds on which hate crimes may be perpetrated. At best, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes can be prosecuted as crimes committed on the basis of “hooliganism.” However, the discriminatory aspect of these crimes, which sets them apart from common crimes, is ignored.

Despite the legalization of homosexuality in 2007, there is still much opposition. In 2014, the National Assembly voted against the discriminatory bill a nationalist group (Ataka) proposed. The party leader, Volen Siderov, proposed a prison sentence of one to five years and fines of 5000 to 10 000 leva for anyone who “publicly manifests his or other homosexual orientation or identity through an organisation or participation in rallies, processions and parades or through the mass media and the internet.”

source: refugeelegalaidinformation.org