Bulgaria Adopts Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation

07 February 2004

On September 16, 2003, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. The law bans discrimination on a number of grounds, including race, gender, religion, disability, age and sexual orientation. It provides that in prima facie cases of discrimination, the respondent has the burden of proving that discrimination did not occur. The law establishes an Anti-Discrimination Commission consisting of nine members, five elected by Parliament and four appointed by the President, with specialised subcommittees for racial and gender discrimination, which will have the power to receive and investigate complaints and issue binding rulings, as well as to impose significant fines on perpetrators. The law includes provisions such that more than one victim can join a complaint in cases where the discriminatory abuse harms groups of people.

The law is in harmony with European Council of the European Union Directives 2000/43, 2000/78, 2002/73, providing the current standards on anti-discrimination law in Europe, and fulfils prior obligations freely adopted by the Bulgarian government in the Framework Programme for the Equal Integration of Roma into Bulgarian Society. The law consolidates Bulgarian anti-discrimination law into a single comprehensive act, thus improving the chances for real and comprehensive enforceability in practice.

The law was drafted with the active involvement of Bulgarian non-governmental organsiations, including: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights, Bulgarian Gay Organisation "Gemini", Center for Independent Life, Human Rights Project and Romani Baht Foundation.



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