ECtHR: Inadequate legal response to homophobic murder: Bulgarian law must change

ECtHR: Inadequate legal response to homophobic murder: Bulgarian law must change

In today’s [14 June 2022] Chamber judgment in the case of Stoyanova v. Bulgaria (application no. 56070/18) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken together with Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the homophobic murder of the applicant’s 26-year-old son. His attackers, secondary-school students, had singled him out for assault because they had thought he looked like a homosexual. The attackers had been found guilty of aggravated murder, but had been given sentences which were below the statutory minimum after the courts took into account mitigating factors such as their young age and clean criminal records.

The Court found in particular that, although the Bulgarian courts had clearly established that the reason behind the attack had been the perpetrators’ hatred for homosexuals, there had been no tangible legal consequences. This was because the Bulgarian Criminal Code did not provide for homophobia as a specific aggravating factor in respect of the crime of murder. Therefore, under Article 46 (binding force and implementation), the Court found that Bulgaria had to ensure that violent attacks motivated by hostility towards the victim’s actual or presumed sexual
orientation were treated as aggravated in criminal-law terms.

A legal summary of this case will be available in the Court’s database HUDOC (link)

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