Below is the interview we gave for the Slovak media www.postoj.sk, after the decision of the Bulgarian Constitutional court was released, declaring that the Istanbul Convention is against the Bulgarian Constitution.
– We know that Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov is against Istanbul Convention (IC), so why was the issue put on the Constitutional Court?
– Being under a huge pressure from the EU officials our government promised them many times that Bulgaria will ratify the IC during the Bulgarian EU Chairmanship. The decision the ratification bill to be filed into the parliament was taken with the vote of our prime minister Boiko Borissov.
The Istanbul Convention divided not just the parliament but the whole society. Over 70% of the Bulgarian people were against it. There were many protest and lots of media coverage about it. Lots of parents, teachers, professors, doctors, NGOs etc. were against the IC. The term “gender” became a bad word. LGBTI groups behind its ratification were exposed, including the propositions of changes in the law and for “gender” equality education in the school system they made. GERB’s ratting was dropping too. Than 75 members of the Parliament, from Boiko Borissov party (GERB) turned to the Constitutional Court weather on not the IC is against our Constitution.
– Why is this decision so important? Do you think that this decision can be helpful for other countries with definition of marriage in Constitutions as Slovakia, Hungary…?
– The decision is so important because it is a positive example on how other countries should proceed in such cases. There are several great merits of the solution, which one of the leading specialists on international law Valdimir Sheitanov listed. First is that the principle of shared competence of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court was resolved in deciding on the accession of Bulgaria to international treaties. Second, the supremacy of the Constitution over international treaties; Than the protection of constitutionality was conducted with indisputable professionalism and all of diversity and richness of views of the professional community, the society opinion have been taken into account; And last but not least the right of the Bulgarian people to determine the legal reality in which they live was protected, against the backdrop of rarely unrestrained international pressure.
In the Constitution of Bulgaria is defined marriage between a man and a woman. What is the definition exactly?
– In article 46 (1) of the Bulgarian Constitution is written that: “Marriage is a voluntary union between a man and a woman. Only civil marriage is legitimate.”
Slovakia has not ratified IC yet… Where do you see the reasons why Bulgaria is still without ratification of IC?
– First we as an NGO reacted on the matter, than other people and NGOs joined. We exposed also the consequences of one changing his/her gender identity giving examples of what is happening in other countries – man competing and winning in sports competitions for women; a man raping 8 women in women’s shelters as having access as a transgender man; gender education in kindergarten and schools etc. We were inspired by what Croatia has done.
The topic went further in the media when one of the ministers, who is part of one of the political coalition “United Patriots” in the Parliament took the arguments and made a press conference. Later on the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which is in opposition in the Parliament, took a strong stand.
From the churches first the United Evangelical Churches reacted, than the Orthodox Church with a very strong and well-drafted position, than the Catholic Church released their statement. There were also few parliamentarians from GERB who dared not to vote for the bill in their parliament groups, which was important.
In the course of the debates professional opinions have been taken by the president, former ministers, former and current constitutional judges, prosecutors and lawyers, members of the legal academic community, doctors, academic professors.
Mihaela Djorgova, Chairman
Association Society and Values
Association Society and Values first filed a signal in September 2017 on the danger and consequences of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Nearly 11,000 people supported the petition, and over 100 organizations, university and school teachers, scientists and professors joined its Open Letter and later on Statement of Rejection of the Conviction.