Bulgarian Socialist Party Remains Opposed to Ratification of Istanbul Convenion at Odds with PES

Bulgarian Socialist Party Remains Opposed to Ratification of Istanbul Convenion at Odds with PES

Sofia, January 13 (BTA) - Following a four-hour debate Saturday, the National Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) adopted a position reconfirming an earlier stand against the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, the BSP said in a press release.

Ten days ago BSP's Executive Bureau took a stand against the ratification of the convention.

The Socialists hold that the convention contains provisions which divide the Bulgarian society and which can be interpreted in different ways.

The forum decided that the BSP will table legislative texts in Parliament that guarantee the effective tackling of violence against women. The texts are intended to apply in practice the provisions of the convention for protection of women against all forms of violence. Also, the BSP will move for amendments to the penal legislation on the harshest prosecution and penalizing of perpetrators of violence and and on the criminalization of domestic violence, forced marriages and forced co-habitation, among other strict measures.

Before the forum, the President of the Party of the European Socialists (PES) and MEP, Sergei Stanishev, expressed his support for the Istanbul Convention and said the debate on the issue in Bulgaria has been distorted.

In Bulgaria the public is divided on its take on the convention, with many fearing that the document will open the doors for the introduction in this country of what they describe in Bulgarian as "social gender" or "third gender" and which they say goes against the traditional values.

The government approved the convention but it is subject to ratification by Parliament. The ruling coalition does not have a unified opinion on the matter either, with ministers and MPs from it believing that the document will lead to the legitimization of a "third gender".

According to Stanishev "bogus or hugely exaggerated fears or interpretations of the convention which have been given a clear answer from the Council of Europe displace the real problem of violence against women". He said that in the past year alone, three women were killed by their male partners after numerous complaints about violence. "Statistics and surveys show clearly that a quarter of women in Bulgaria have been victims of violence in one form or another," Stanishev said, adding that "what is being said about the convention simply does not exist".

Stanishev said that only a month ago at a PES council the BSP supported a resolution containing an express text in support of the Istanbul Convention.

Source: Sofia