The new interpretative decision of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) regarding the legal gender change is in contradiction with international human rights standards
On February 20, 2023, the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) issued the long-awaited interpretative decision on the admissibility and conditions under which the court may allow changes in the civil status documents of a petitioner who claims to be transgender.
The aim of this decision is to harmonize the conflicting judicial practices in Bulgaria, where in some cases transgender individuals were allowed to change the recorded gender in their civil status documents, while in other cases, such requests were denied. The judicial practice was not clear regarding whether individuals must have undergone a medical procedure to change their gender before or after the change in the registers.
After two previous interpretative decisions and a decade-long judicial practice that allowed such changes, the current interpretative decision of the SCC surprisingly categorically rejects the possibility for transgender individuals in Bulgaria to achieve a legal gender change. This decision also provides mandatory guidelines to the courts to reject all pending or future applications for gender change. At present, there are dozens of pending applications, and all of them are likely to be rejected.