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Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Legislation Bulgarian Constitution

The core of Bulgarian anti-racist legislation is the country’s Constitution, the Law “On protection against discrimination” (2004, amended in 2006) and the Criminal Code.

Article 6 of Bulgarian Constitution states: “There shall be no restrictions on the rights or privileges on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, origin, religion, education, opinion, political affiliation, personal or social status or property status”.

Article 29 states that no person can be subjected to forced assimilation. Paragraph 2 of Art 36 notes, that citizens for whom the Bulgarian is not first language, have the right, alongside the compulsory study of Bulgarian language, to study and use his native language. Article 54 asserts the right of national minorities to develop culture, while Article 37 proclaims freedom of conscience. Article 44 prohibits organisations whose activities are directed towards inciting racial, ethnic or religious enmity. Article 4-5 of the Law “On protection against discrimination” bans discrimination on racial or religious grounds (see below).

Criminal Code contains Article 108, which establishes criminal liability for those who preach fascist or other anti-democratic ideology. Article 162 of the Criminal Code deals with crimes against ethnic and racial equality, both violence and abetting. Article 163 concerns the participants of large-scale attacks on the grounds of hate; Article 164-166 concerns crimes on religious grounds.

Article 8 on Radio and Television notes that media services cannot be inciting to hatred based on race, gender or nationality. Article 10 states that programmes that promote intolerance among citizens or hatred based on race, gender, religion or nationality cannot be broadcasted. Article 17 states that media must bear full responsibility for the contents of their media services and must not allow “creation or distribution of any programmes that incite national, political, ethnic, religious or racial intolerance”. Offences are punished by a fine of approximately 1 500 euros, which is doubled if offense is committed again.

While Bulgarian Criminal Code mentions motives of crimes that should be considered by the courts (Art 54), the country’s legislation has no mention of norms recognising racial, religious or other prejudices as aggravating circumstances in the commission of crimes.

Bulgaria also lacks the law regulating the rights of national minorities, which means that provisions of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities are not being followed. Furthermore, there is no legislation to combat the crimes against LGBT members.

The main normative act of anti-discrimination legislation is the Law “on protection against discrimination”, adopted in 2004 and amended in 2006. Article 2 of the Law states that its purpose is to provide each person with the right to quality execution of the laws, equal opportunities, effective protection against discrimination.

Article 4 and 5 states that the law is directed against discrimination (direct and indirect) on the basis of gender, race, nationality, ethnic origin, citizenship, origin, religion and beliefs, education, political affiliation, personal or social status, disability, age, sexual orientation, family status, financial status, as well as protecting against sexual harassment, incitement to discrimination, persecution and racial segregation, as well as protecting from the presence and construction of architectural environment that restrain access for disabled people.

Article 12 prohibits employers to implement restrictions on the grounds specified in Art 4, except for those cases, when it is due to the specifics of the job. Article 18 states that employers, cooperating with trade unions, should take effective preventative measures against all forms of discrimination at the workplace. Article 30 places similar responsibilities on heads of educational institutions in the case of discrimination of students.

Nevertheless, given that the new norms have effectively nullified existing antidiscrimination legislation it must be said that Bulgarian legislation currently needs serious revision.

Migration processes in Bulgaria are regulated by several legislative acts – the Constitution, Law on entry, stay and exit from the Republic of Bulgaria for citizens of the European Union and members of their families (2006), the Law “On foreigners” (1998), the Law “On Asylum and Refugees” (2002) and the Law “On citizenship”. Article 26 of the Constitution of Bulgaria states – “Foreigners residing in the Republic of Bulgaria have all the rights and responsibilities provided for in this Constitution, except the rights and responsibilities that the Constitution and laws require Bulgarian citizenship”.

Conditions of entry for EU and Swiss citizens are defined by the Law on entry, stay and exit from the Republic of Bulgaria for citizens of the European Union and members of their families, adopted in 2006, which corresponds to the Regulation 562/2006 of the European Parliament and Council from 15th of March 2006. Conditions of entry to everyone else are determined by the Law adopted in 1990 “On foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria”. Article 3 of the Law on foreigners states that they have all rights and responsibilities except for those which require Bulgarian citizenship.

Permits for long-term (up to one year) and permanent (indefinite) residence are issued to foreigners that arrived for treatment, education, participation in scientific research, migrant workers, who have received permission from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, entrepreneurs employing at least 10 Bulgarian citizens, investors and their agents, foreign specialists, who arrived through international agreements, spouses of Bulgarian citizens, spouses and children of permanent residents (however, if the marriage has lasted less than 5 years, spouse shall be deported after the divorce), representatives of foreign companies, non-profit organisations and foreign correspondents.

Bulgaria is one of the countries that have their own programme “residence permit in exchange for investment”, in accordance to which a permanent residence permit is given to foreigners after a five-year stay in the country or after an investment of 0.5 million U.S. dollars. Amongst the grounds for the right of permanent residence are also achievements in social and economic sphere, in the field of national security, science, technology, culture or sport. All information about foreigners is entered into a single register, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior.

After receiving a permanent residence permit, employment of immigrants is only possible upon obtaining a permission from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. Upon receiving the permanent residence permit, their employment – according to Article 33 of the Law on foreigners – does not differ from the employment of Bulgarian citizens in any way. Legal entities are also subjected to a fine, if employing illegal immigrants. Secondary violation is punished by an increased fine. The ban on entry to Bulgaria, according to Article 42 of the Law on foreigners, is valid for 10 years.

Granting of asylum is regulated by the Law on Asylum and Refugees, adopted in 2002. According to the Law on citizenship, a foreigner can apply for Bulgarian citizenship after five years of residence. It can also be granted “in special cases or for outstanding contributions in the interests of Bulgaria.

Illegal immigration is punished by a fine or a prison term of up to five years (maximum term for EU countries). However, on May 14, court of Haskovo ruled that illegal entry is not considered a crime if a person applies for asylum at first opportunity. Abetting illegal immigration, even if not for profits, is also punished (this includes humanitarian assistance for immigrants). Renting out property to illegal immigrants is also punished by a fine.

The Gender Equality Law was adopted on April 26, 2016. The law regulates the state policy on gender equality, the basic principles of this policy, positive measures to promote gender equality, namely the institutional structure, relevant bodies and mechanisms of the state policy on gender equality. The law confirms the competence of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy as a body which will manage, coordinate and control gender equality in Bulgaria. The basic principles of the state policy are: equal opportunities Women and men, equal access to resources, equal treatment and non-discrimination, elimination of gender violence, balanced representation of women and men in the decision making bodies and elimination of stereotypes on grounds of gender.

The National Council for Gender Equality within the Council of Ministers is an advisory body which is part of the structures and mechanisms of public policy. The law provides for the adoption of temporary special measures to promote gender equality, which do not constitute discrimination on the basis of gender.

On February 6, 2019, a new law on persons with disabilities was passed. The purpose of the law is to guarantee the full and equal enjoyment of rights for persons with disabilities, making their social integration possible and supporting them and their families. The principles stated in the law are equal treatment based on an individualized approach, individualized needs assessment, as well as personal choice and independence, accessibility and full participation.

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