Lesbians, gay men, and bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Bulgaria (LGBTQ) face social and legal obstacles and discrimination that heterosexual and cisgender people do not experience.
First and foremost, these people continue to be targets of deliberate violence against them and their property. The reasons for such attacks are numerous: their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or gender characteristics. This violence is not adequately addressed by the authorities—neither at a preventative stage, where it should be intercepted, nor at the time of punishment, when the violence has already taken place and the experience of the victim must be recognized, and the perpetrator held accountable.
All of this is to be expected given the widespread negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people in Bulgarian society. As a result, people from these groups risk restriction and exclusion from public life.
According to data from the Eurobarometer 493 from 2019, only 39% of Bulgarians agree that LGBTQ individuals should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual and cisgender people. Approximately 60% admit that they would feel uncomfortable if such an individual held the highest elected political office in the country; approximately 50% would feel uncomfortable working with such an individual.
Bulgarian legislation in no way regulates personal and familial relationships for same-sex couples in the same way that it regulates them for heterosexual couples through the institution of marriage. It does not provide any legal framework whatsoever (any legal institution) for the establishment of legal familial ties or other legal effects for same-sex families. This legal vacuum places such families, their children, and their loved ones in extremely problematic, challenging situations when it comes to family, inheritance, and property law, as well as healthcare, taxation, insurance, banking and lending, education, and the exercise of labor, social, and insurance rights, etc.
For people whose gender identity or sexual characteristics do not align with the gender binary or cisgender cultural norms, there are no clear and accessible administrative or financial means to change their official sex in their civil status register or in their identification documents. Quite the opposite—over the last few years, the previously well-established case law that allowed for such changes became more restrictive, and the court’s decisions more unpredictable.
The law lacks prohibitions and safeguards against medical practices of genital mutilation for intersex children.
Media participation and representation of LGBTG people remains weak and often stereotypical.
Nevertheless, LGBTQ people in Bulgaria enjoy relatively extensive freedoms of assembly and association.
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee was the first nongovernmental organization in Bulgaria to pay attention to the police brutality against LGTBQ people, even as early as the 1990s. Subsequently, it was among the first to investigate the criminalization of consensual sexual contact between individuals of the same sex.
Almost since its founding, the annual Sofia Pride celebration has received support from BHC, and representatives of the organization are members of the Pride’ organizational committee.
BHC’s legal programs provide free legal aid for a wide variety of LGBTQ people: victims of discrimination and hate crimes, refugeees and migrants, and parents.