CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATES ON “GENDER” AND “GENDER IDEOLOGY” IN ROMANIA AND BULGARIA

Despite a lack of strategic litigation culture, and of previous experience with popular engagement on the constitutional front, the constitutional courts and texts in both Romania and Bulgaria have become venues for unprecedented contestation of gender relations over the last years. This paper focuses on two recent cases of the Romanian Constitutional Court (RCC) and respectively of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court (BCC) that have adopted completely different approaches towards gender issues despite the similarities between the constitutional discourses on gender in both countries – the decision of the BCC that the Istanbul Convention is unconstitutional (2018) and the judgment of the RCC annulling a law that sought to ban gender studies (2020). In order to explain this disparity, the paper will use a “law in context” method that considers the different institutional designs of both courts as well as shared and distinctive social, political, historical and geographical factors.