2020 was a difficult, dynamic year, with many challenges, not only in the pandemic, but also in our actions to protect children and families, freedom of speech and human dignity.
Our civil actions, along with others, have played an important role in bringing the Social Services Act into the Constitutional Court and declaring key texts in it unconstitutional. The changes made, in response to some of our demands, are an important step forward in protecting the rights of children and parents.
In January, our Association Society and Values issued an Opinion on the Social Services Act. In it, we pointed out specific texts, made clear recommendations and asked the government to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.
In February, we participated in a speech at the round table in the National Assembly on the occasion of the Social Services Act (SSA). In the presence of the Minister of Social Policy, MPs, representatives of agencies and institutions, incl. The European Parliament and over 50 non-governmental organizations, we pointed out the main problems in the law.
In March, due to the civil pressure, lawmakers filed a motion with the Constitutional Court to rule on the SSA. In its ruling on July 14, the court declared some of the texts we had identified as problematic in our opinion to be unconstitutional. The decision was a step forward in protecting the rights of parents and, above all, the safety and well-being of children.
At the beginning of the year, we initiated an Open Letter, which we sent on behalf of over 50 organizations and over 5,500 citizens, in connection with the decision of the government to make pre-school education mandatory from the age of four.
In April, we participated with an opinion, proposals and requests in connection with the bill announced later. Despite civil pressure in September, the government voted for the changes to take effect in 2023/24. This was an occasion to understand why this time some of the parents did not actively oppose the changes and to share their experience in the education of their children, in their chosen forms and programs.
In May, we sent an opinion on the proposed bill to combat disinformation on the Internet, which provides for up to 3 years in prison for submitting “false information” on the Internet, without a clear definition and criteria for this. Our reaction, along with others, helped protect freedom of speech in online, media and social networks.
In June, we sent an opinion on the proposed bill to amend the Personal Data Act. It provided for the court to be able to suspend access to sites and profiles on social networks that disseminate “false information concerning individuals or legal entities”, without the possibility of proving the opposite or to defend in court. Our and others’ request to reject the bill was again successful.
In June we took part in the national protest march in Sofia, organized by Parents United for Children. The reason for our participation was the enacting the Law on Social Services (SSA), without complying with the publicly announced commitments for changes in it. In July, the Constitutional Court in its decision declared some of the texts of the SSA, which we emphasized in our opinion, unconstitutional, which were later changed by the Parliament.
In July, we issued a letter to the government in connection with the increasing number of cases of dealing with awkward journalists and their removal from the air. With it, we insisted on respect for freedom of speech, an end to repression against journalists and the search for responsibility for each individual case.
In July and August, we distributed in Bulgarian educational materials, research and videos showing the effects on mental and physical health, medicine and women’s sports of policies promoting gender reassignment, in connection with the forthcoming interpretative case in the Supreme Court of Cassation on gender reassignment of persons who claim that they are transsexual.
In September, on the same occasion, we initiated a petition to the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Cassation, which a month later we submitted on behalf of 31 civil and parent organizations and 1,410 citizens. With it we asked the board to comply with the Constitution of Bulgaria and protect the future of children and our country.
The petition continues to gather support at: https://civilactionbg.com/защити-бъдещоте-децата-и-жените/
In October, we sent a letter, in connection with the petition, to the parties invited to comment, on the case scheduled for February 2021.
In November, we reached thousands of parents and like-minded people with information and examples that we prepared on how they can protect children from harmful to the psyche and their development ads. That same month, we issued an opinion to the government in order to protect the rights of children and parents in connection with the draft amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which is yet to be voted on. In December, we participated with a letter containing specific recommendations to protect children and the family in connection with the forthcoming EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2021-2024.
It is encouraging, at the end of 2020, to see positive results from our actions, together with others, in our country opposing, together with Poland and Hungary, the EU’s attempts to introduce a gender and gender identity other than biological ones.
The position of our government is based on the decision of the Constitutional Court on the Istanbul Convention, which declared the introduction of meanings for gender and gender identity other than biological ones unconstitutional.
During the year we managed to participate in a number of meetings, television broadcasts and events. We informed the media and gave interviews related to marriage, family and education. We reached out and informed thousands of our followers every month through our newsletter.
For the ninth year we participated with coordination for the celebration of the International Marriage Week in our country, from 7 to 14 February. We helped the initiative to expand in 7 cities with 25 public events.
During the Marriage Week we had a discussion with students, at the invitation of one of the capital’s universities and assisted in holding the fourth edition of the School for Successful Marriage. The initiative was widely covered in the media, where we had the opportunity to share about the benefits of healthy marriages and families, partners, children and society and how we could promote them. More about it and how you could get involved, see www.brak.bg.
Since the beginning of the initiative, there has been an increase in marriages in Bulgaria by 37 percent. We believe that Marriage Week contributes to this, with its broad public support and publicity.
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Association Society and Values