Gender change illegal in Bulgaria, says Supreme Court

21-02-2023

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

A young woman has her face made up with a gender symbol. Photo AFP, Alberto Pizzoli

Bulgarian transgender people may not change their gender. That is what the civil panel of the Bulgarian Supreme Court ruled this week. According to the panel, Bulgarian law does not allow the procedure.

"The current law does not provide the possibility for courts to change data regarding sex, name and uniform civil status in the documents of an applicant who claims to be transgender", the ruling reads, as reported by Euractive Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Up till the decision of the Supreme Court, there was much unclarity about the legality of gender reassignment in Bulgaria, Euractive writes. Some judges allowed gender change if someone applied directly to a court. Because the Bulgarian Law on Identity Documents specified that citizens are obliged to apply for the issuance of new documents within 30 days in case of a gender change, some liberal judges allowed people to change their legal gender. Others thought that changing one's gender was not permitted in any case. This unclear legislation led to several reprimands by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Backdoors

Now, the ruling of the Supreme Court closes all backdoors to legal gender change. The Supreme Court followed an earlier ruling of the Constitutional Court, which decided in 2021 that gender is determined at birth and is the same as biological sex. That was reported earlier by CNE.news.

Now, the judges added that legal gender reassignment significantly impacts the family of the person in question. If gender change were permitted, some families would consist of parents of the same sex, which is not allowed in Bulgaria. "If the court were to allow such a change without detailed legislation, it would place the legal position of the petitioner's spouse and their children in a state of uncertainty", the civil council explained.

Chain

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