Bulgarian Trans Protester Stages Hunger Strike Over Court’s ID Ruling


Gabriela Bankova is on hunger strike in front of Bulgaria’s Palace of Justice after a court rejected her request to change her ID documents to match her gender identity.

Gabriela Bankova, a 32-year-old trans woman, is continuing a hunger strike in front of the Palace of Justice on Sofia after Bulgaria’s judicial аuthorities said she could not change her ID documents according to her gender identity. 

“The situation illustrates how Bulgaria has essentially turned into an authoritarian state: the court decides who is fit for society on some vague moral grounds, with no regard to whether this is in breach with constitutional [rights] and the European Convention of Human Rights,” Bankova told BIRN on Wednesday, the third day of her action.

Gabriela, parent of a five-year old, started her protest on Monday, the day she received the rejection from the court.

She first protested in the halls of the Palace of Justice and then moved in front of the building. She is adamant that she will continue the hunger strike until the adoption of a legally regulated procedure under which transgender people can change their ID. As part of the protest, she has also destroyed her birth certificate. 

The outcome of her case follows a Supreme Court verdict in February which ruled that transgender people were not longer eligible to change identity documents. The ruling stated: “The constitution and Bulgarian legislation are built on the understanding of the binary existence of the human species.”

Human rights activists then told BIRN that this would result in more cases being brought against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR.

Gabriela told BIRN that so far no important politician had reached to her, or taken a position. She has little expectation that anything will change, since “the courts base their opinion on society’s norms, and this is a society that hardly knows anything about transgender people or their issues”.

In an unrelated case regarding a marriage repeatedly not recognised by Bulgarian institutions, in September the ECHR ruled that Bulgaria must create a framework to acknowledge same-sex relationships and address transgender rights. This has yet to be initiated.

“We stand against the systematic violation of the right of self-determination of trans and intersex people in Bulgaria,” two local NGOs, Bilitis and GLAS, said on Tuesday, demanding a new legal framework.

“These are the results of the institutionalised discrimination that makes life hell for trans people in Bulgaria,” the Bulgarian Fund for Women and the LGBT+ organisation Deystvie said.

Gabriela’s protest is ongoing, despite her still recovering from severe preumonia, with supporters helping her with water, warm clothes and blankets amid falling temperatures and rainy weather.

Source : Balkaninsight