Final: The Supreme Administrative Court convicted the newspaper "Trud" of homophobic Russian propaganda

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) with a final decision convicted the newspaper "Trud" and its publisher, Petyo Blaskov, for publishing a translated Russian article propagating hatred towards gay people.

The case, filed by the LGBTI activist Radoslav Stoyanov from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), concerns a translated material from RIA "Novosti," published by the newspaper in September 2019 under the title "Pederasts in the USA raise the alarm." The article provides an overview of the deteriorating social climate towards non-heterosexual people in the USA under President Donald Trump's administration. At the same time, the publication sounds an alarm about how gay people are participating in political and social life, which is characterized as a "plague." For example, it points out that gay people occupy teaching positions in the academic community. The article clearly conveys the notion that gay people are "perverted" and, therefore, dangerous to children. Epithets like "pederasts," "sodomites," and "perverts" were used to refer to them. The article even explains that the condemnatory decisions of the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian Federation are the work of "perverts" working there. The article links these processes with the Istanbul Convention and legislation against domestic violence, which is widely propagated in our country.

In November 2021, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination ruled against "Trud" newspaper and its publisher, Petyo Blaskov, obliging them to introduce an internal mechanism for self-control and non-discrimination, to be known to all media employees; to report to the Commission on the results within 30 days, and to remove the article from the electronic content of the newspaper.

On the appeal of "Trud," in July 2022, the Sofia City Administrative Court upheld the Commission's decision, but the media appealed again.

In their decision yesterday, the Supreme Court judges confirmed the first-instance court's opinion. They found that the expressions "pederasts," "sodomites," and "perverts" unambiguously incite hostility, intolerance, intolerance, and exclusion of gay people. The judges emphasized that these expressions "do not affect a specific person but an entire group of people."

The Supreme Court judges point out that freedom of speech is not absolute and that the phenomenon known as "hate speech" tarnishes the good name and dignity of individuals and creates a derogatory, demeaning, offensive, or threatening environment.

"Since 2018, Bulgaria has been subjected to a systematic propaganda campaign against the rights of LGBTI people and the rights of women," commented Radoslav Stoyanov of the BHC.

"This article is an example of the campaign that presents gay people as pedophiles and the Istanbul Convention as a satanic instrument for changing everyone's gender. The lie about 'gender ideology' did not escape the Constitutional Court, and now a party is organizing a referendum based on this lie. The decision of the Supreme Court brings hope for normality and legality in terms of protecting LGBTI people from discrimination. The public debate on such issues should be conducted with decency," Stoyanov added.