Bulgaria (CCPR 15-11-2018)
The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of Bulgaria (CCPR/C/BGR/4) at its 3542nd and 3543rd meetings (see CCPR/C/SR.3542 and 3543), held on 16 and 17 October 2018. At its 3559th meeting, held on 29 October 2018, it adopted the present concluding observations.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Hate speech and hate crimes
- The Committee is concerned about reports of increased acts of hate speech and hate crimes, particularly against the Roma community, members of religious minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, migrants and asylum seekers, including racist, xenophobic and intolerant speech on television, the media and on the Internet, from persons at the highest levels of government and in election campaigns. While noting the legislative reforms aimed at expanding the scope of hate crimes, the Committee remains concerned that sexual orientation and gender identity are not recognized as hate motives or grounds of discrimination in either the Criminal Code or the Radio and Television Act. It is also concerned at the lack of data regarding criminal hate speech and hate crimes and that these crimes are not adequately investigated and prosecuted, since the hate motive is often not taken into account, and the number of convictions is extremely low (arts. 2–3, 18–20 and 26–27).
- The State party should:
(a) Amend the Criminal Code and the Radio and Television Act to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as hate motives and grounds of discrimination, respectively;
(b) Ensure that any advocacy of ethnic or racial hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited in law and in practice, and that persons responsible for such behaviour towards minority groups are held accountable, including State officials;
(c) Effectively enforce criminal provisions against hate crimes and hate speech by ensuring that such crimes are reported, investigated, prosecuted and punished with appropriate sanctions, and that victims receive full reparation;
(d) Strengthen the investigative capacity of law enforcement officials for hate crimes and criminal hate speech, including on the Internet and strengthen the mandate and capacity of the Council for Electronic Media to prevent and sanction hate speech in the media.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity
- The Committee is concerned that the Protection against Discrimination Act does not include gender identity as a ground of discrimination. It also notes with concern that same-sex couples cannot enter into any form of legally recognized union or adopt children, and that those married overseas and their children are denied access to civil registration. It is further concerned at the obstacles to changing legal recognition of gender, including reports that courts condition such changes on undergoing hormonal therapy. The Committee is concerned at the persistence of stereotypical attitudes, prejudice, hostility and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, including as reflected in the Constitutional Court’s decision No. 13/2018 of 27 July 2018 (arts. 2–3, 16–17, 19–20, 23 and 26).
- The State party should:
(a) Eliminate discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity in law and in practice in all spheres, including employment, marriage and family arrangements, and ensure access to effective remedies for any act of discrimination;
(b) Amend the Protection against Discrimination Act to explicitly include gender identity as a ground of discrimination and fully recognize the equality of same-sex couples;
(c) Establish a simple and accessible administrative procedure for change of civil status with respect to gender identity that is in accordance with the Covenant;
(d) Intensify efforts to combat negative stereotypes and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and to promote tolerance through training and awareness-raising campaigns for government officials and the general public, including through public schools.