Bulgaria’s GERB to seek Constitutional Court ruling on Istanbul Convention

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s party GERB, the senior partner in the governing coalition, plans to seek a ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court whether provisions from the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence were in conflict with the Bulgarian constitution.

Specifically, the court would be asked to rule whether the convention in any way clashed with article 46 of the constitution, which defines marriage as “the voluntary union between a man and a woman.”

Danail Kirilov, the GERB MP who chairs Parliament’s legal affairs committee, said that the party would seek the court’s opinion in order to bring clarity to the public debate on the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, to give its full official name.

The document has unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a controversy in Bulgaria over the past month, with the ultra-nationalist United Patriots, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, refusing to support the cabinet’s ratification proposal earlier this month. Their argument was that ratifying the convention would open the door for same-sex marriage and recognition of a “third gender”.

Surprisingly, the largest opposition party, the socialists, has also came out against the convention – though its insistence on a referendum indicates that it is more intent on dealing a blow to GERB by tapping into a populist vein, rather than an ideological position.

The socialists have already achieved the goal of halting the ratification process, with GERB caving in on that issue last week. By making a formal inquiry with the Constitutional Court, which has no legal deadlines on how long it can take to consider a case, GERB would effectively postpone resolution of the issue until at least later this year.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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