At an extraordinary meeting, the legal commission in the Bulgarian parliament adopted changes to the Criminal Code and the Law on Domestic Violence. Penalties for minor and moderate bodily harm are increased, and intimate relationships are equated to cases of domestic violence along with de facto conjugal cohabitation.

After nearly three hours of debate, the Legal Committee of the National Assembly accepted the proposals for changes to the Penal Code, which increase the penalties for minor and bodily injury.

The project submitted by GERB-SDS, WCC-DB and DPS was approved with complete unanimity of 19 votes “for”. It stipulates that the perpetrator will receive up to 8 years in prison for inflicted average bodily harm, instead of the previous 6.

Probation is no longer possible in case of minor bodily injury. For such a crime, up to 2 years of imprisonment is foreseen, the fine is also increased – from 500 to 1000 leva, currently it is from 100 to 300 leva.

The “Vazrazhdane” project received 16 votes “in favor” and three votes “against”. It sets a minimum floor of 3 months effective punishment for inflicting minor bodily harm and dropping the requirement of systematic violence, but states that there must be at least one previous such case.

Deputies also adopted changes to the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, which expands the circle of persons who fall under its protection, equating an intimate relationship with cases of marital partnership and cohabitation without marriage.

These changes were provoked after recent events regarding an 18-year-old girl who was brutally abused which in turn resulted in protests all over Bulgaria.