List of Law and Policy Documents


  • Bulgarian Constitution, adopted in 1991 by the Seventh Great National Assembly. Equal rights and the principle of non-discrimination are enshrined in the Constitution (Fundamental principles, Article 6: (1) All persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights.(2) All citizens shall be equal before the law. There shall be no privileges or restriction of rights on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic self-identity, sex, origin, religion, education, opinion, political affiliation, personal or social status or property status.) However, the Constitution does not explicitly provide specific regulations for gender equality. Articles 46 and 47 of the Chapter on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms settle family relations and parenthood based on equal rights and obligations.
  • Family Code (1985, amended 1992) (in Bulgarian). The Family Code sets forth relationships in marriage, relation and adoption, guardianship and trusteeship. The Family Code is based on the principle of “… equality of men and women …” ( Article 3)
  • Labour Code (1986, amended 2001). The Labour Code prohibits all types of discrimination, privileges, limitations based on nationality, origin, gender and race. Article 8(3) states that: In the exercise of labour rights and duties no direct or indirect discrimination, privileges or restrictions shall be allowed on grounds of ethnicity, origin, sex, race, skin colour, age, political and religious convictions, affiliation to trade union and other public organizations and movements, family, social and property status and disability. The amendment to the Code in 2001 introduced the principle of equal pay to women and men (Article 243). Another provision refers to the parental leave, regulated by article 167a of the Labour Code. The provisions of parental leave are quite recently introduced and public opinion towards it is has not yet been registered. By the end of 2003 certain amendments to the Labour Code introduced the definitions of indirect discrimination (Supplementary Provisions, §1,7).
  • Social Security Code (adopted in 1999). Substantial legislative reform was made in the field of pension schemes regulation. The pension reform reflects the basic requirements for gender equality. The state public insurance shall be implemented on the principles of obligatory and comprehensive insurance and equality of the insured persons (Art. 3, 1 and 3). The reform undertaken excludes any discrimination on the grounds of the sex of the pensioners. As far as gender equality issues are concerned, the pension system still has problems to resolve. This includes the introduction of uniform requirements for the acquisition of pension rights by bringing the pension age of women and men closer.
  • Law on Protection against Discrimination, promulgated in State Gazette No 86/30.09.2003, and entered into force on 1 January 2004. The adoption of an anti-discrimination law and the establishment of a specific body for its implementation were part of the recommendations made by the Commission against Racism and Intolerance to the Council of Europe. Adopting the Law on Protection against Discrimination was an important condition for closing Chapter 13 on “Social policy and employment” in the negotiations for Bulgaria’s EU membership. The Law on Protection against Discrimination provides the main legal framework in the field of anti –discrimination applicable to all forms of discrimination in all spheres of social life. It regulates the bodies, procedures and mechanisms for protection against discrimination and provides measures to discontinue any infringement and punish any violation of the anti-discrimination law. It can be stated that the Law on Protection against Discrimination is the first step toward the creation and provision of legal guarantees for equal treatment of women and men. The next step will be for the authorities and anti-discrimination mechanisms, provided for under the Law on Protection against Discrimination, to commence work, which has not yet begun. The Law on Protection against Discrimination is the basic instrument for transposing key E.U. Directives related to gender equality and equal opportunities; however, Bulgaria continues to transpose the E.U. Directives in this field by amending and supplementing existing legal acts.
  • The Law on the Ombudsman, adopted in 2003 and entered into force on 1 January 2004. The Ombudsman’s vocation and duty is to intervene by means envisaged in the law to protect citizens' rights and freedoms that are violated by acts or omissions by state and municipal authorities, administrations or by a person charged with the provision of public services. In this context, they are entitled to access and receive any relevant data for inspection. Financial independence is provided for, as is immunity. The Ombudsman and his deputy are elected for five years by a simple majority of votes in Parliament. They are exclusively answerable to Parliament and must present an annual report on their activities. Their opinions and recommendations will be made public. An Ombudsman Office was established in April 2005.
  • Employment Strategy 2004-2010, approved by the Council of Ministers on 6.11.2003. The Employment Strategy develops the positive employment policies created in the transitional period to market economy and sets out the main objectives and priorities to be achieved in conformity with the provisions of the National Plan for Economic Development. It is a basic understanding of the strategy that employment strategy is a tool to achieve the economic growth as outlined in the National Plan for Economic Development. The Strategy identifies the reintegration of discouraged persons and other social groups not part of the workforce as a problem of prime importance. It further states that the solution to this acute problem requires the elaboration and implementation of measures and programmes that reconcile family and work responsibilities, which shall promote the economic activity of women. The deadline for this objective is 2010. The Strategy pays special attention to the need to develop policies for equal opportunities for all social groups in the labour market and to make the labour market more easily and freely accessible for them. Achievement of equality shall be pursued through two basic means:
    • General measures, referring to the establishment of a legislative, institutional and resource base for guaranteeing equal opportunities for women and men.
    • Specific measures for social group, which are considered to be disadvantaged and in unequal position on the labour market as to the other persons.
    • The Strategy draws attention to the fact that it is very important that the impact of each measure on the status of the respective groups is timely and appropriate. The Strategy also lists the institutions responsible for ensuring equal opportunities for women and men – the Council of Ministers, the Employment Agency, the National Council for tripartite co-operation, the National Council for the promotion of employment, the Consultative Commission on equal opportunities for women and men, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Regional Development and Social Welfare, employers’ organizations, employees’ organizations, and NGOs.
  • Gender Equality Machinery (PDF, 1 Page)



  • Bulgarian Penal Code (PDF, 81 pages) The Penal Code classifies domestic violence as a violent crime. The Penal Code creates criminal penalties for the infliction of severe and moderate physical injuries. Article 128 of the Penal Code states that the punishment for inflicting severe bodily injury on another person is imprisonment for three to ten years. Article 129 of the Penal Code prescribes the punishment for inflicting moderate bodily harm on another individual as deprivation of liberty for up to five years. 
  • Law on Protection against Domestic Violence (BGRF's unofficial translation sponsored by the Bulgarian Fund for Women) was adopted on 16 March 2005 by the National Assembly and came into force on 29 March 2005. According to Art. 2 of the Law, domestic violence is: “any act of physical, mental or sexual violence, and any attempted such violence, as well as the forcible restriction of individual freedom and of privacy, carried out against individuals who have or have had family or kinship ties or cohabit or dwell in the same home”.  Article 6 of the states that the State is obliged to “create conditions” for the implementation of programmes for prevention from domestic violence and programmes providing assistance to the victims of domestic violence. Court protection against domestic violence includes measures to be imposed by district courts through administrative acts, called orders for protection, which may force the offender to restrain from domestic violence, remove the offender from the home, prohibit the offender from approaching the victim's home, place of work, etc., advise programmes for the recovery of the victims, impose obligations on the offender to follow specialized programmes, and impose fines in amounts from BGN 200 to BGN 1000. Two sets of arguments support the adoption of the Law. First, domestic violence exists in Bulgaria. The negative consequences of changes since 1989, such as uncertainty, instability, economic problems, and virtues’ crisis often result in various forms of violence against the “weaker” members of the family – women and children. Research and surveys show an increase of violence against children, women and handicapped persons. Following research by the National Center for Research of the Public Opinion in March 2003, 44% of the population know children who have witnessed family quarrels; 40% know women who are victims of violence by their husbands/partners, 38% know children who are victims of violence by other children. The second reason for the adoption of this law is the need to harmonize legislation to the E.U. best practices. The existing Bulgarian legislation does not provide means and instruments for effective and quick protection against domestic violence. The bill aims to institutionalize the protection against domestic violence, to provide a number of measures for protection against it and rehabilitation and make them easily accessible and affordable. Bulgaria needs to harmonize its legislation with E.U. directives where the elimination of domestic violence is one of the aspects of the equality treatment policy. In many of the EU member countries, special laws have been adopted on protection against domestic violence.
  • For the Law on Protection Against Domestic Violence in Russian, see below.




  • Law on Protection against Discrimination. This law provides protection against all forms of discrimination. Its adoptiong brought a new perspective for Bulgarian anti-discrimination legislation, which made a step forward in its development. The law provides many legal definitions for terms such as harassment, victimization, sexual harassment, racial segregation, unequal treatment, multiple discrimination and perhaps the most important – direct and indirect discrimination. Most of the definitions reflect the wording and meaning of the terms used in the transposed Directives.



  • Penal Code (PDF, 81 pages)
  • The Law on Countering Trafficking in Human Beings (of May 2003, in force since January 2004) introduces measures to prevent trafficking, improve co-ordination between state bodies and NGOs and protect the victims of illegal trafficking in human beings. The illegal trafficking in human beings is a criminal offence under the Bulgarian Penal Code since 2002 (Art. 159). The new law is drawn up in line with the UN Convention against transnational organised crime and its supplementing Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Both have been ratified by Bulgaria. The National Border Police and the National Service for Combating Organised Crime are mandated to fight trafficking. The Law envisages the establishment of a National Commission with the Government and chaired by a deputy prime minister. Apart from the government officials (deputy ministers and deputy presidents of national agencies), this Commission will include also representatives of non-governmental organizations and international institutions working in the field of countering illegal trafficking in people. The National Commission will set up local commissions with the municipalities, chaired by deputy mayors. The National and the local commissions will coordinate the interrelation between the different agencies and develop programs for the implementation of the Law on national and local level. Secondary legislation is to be developed in 2004. The law regulates the non-penal matters related to trafficking including prevention, victim protection and rehabilitation. The law is in line with the UN Convention against Trans-border Organized Crime and its supplementary Protocol on prevention and incrimination of trafficking in human beings, especially women and children.



  • Bulgarian National Plan of Action, approved by the National Council on Social and Demographic Issues with the Council of Ministers on 2 July 1996. The document is a combination of government initiatives and initiatives suggested by non-governmental organizations. The results of its implementation are primarily achieved by the non-governmental sector, which works consistently in the main directions outlined in the Beijing Platform and Plan for Action (1995). The main goal of the measures is the achievement of real equality and the development of women in all spheres of social life on the basis of sustainable social and economic development and reaffirmation of the democratic civil society. The need for institutional mechanisms to provide equal opportunities to women and men is stated in the Plan, as well as the necessary steps that should be taken for legal reform. The Plan sets forth the responsible institutions and organizations and the necessary resources for its implementation.
  • Government Report (October 2004) on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth UN World Conference on Women and the Outcome of the Twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000) to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. No NGO Alternative Report for Bulgaria has been submitted. A new National Plan on Gender Equality should be developed in 2004 in alignment with the commitments of Bulgaria on Chapter 13 Social Policy and Employment.