Freedom is the right to tell people
what they do not want to hear
. -- G. Orwell

Dear members of the Expert Committee and Council of Ministers,

The right to express one’s ideas and convictions is possibly the most fundamental and inalienable right of human participation in society. Any undue limitation of this right must be rejected as tyrannical and oppressive. In its essence the Draft Recommendation (the Recommendation, the Draft, the document, hereafter) seeks to achieve a chilling effect on free speech and even revoke this right in violation of the very Convention[1] whose values and provisions it seeks to uphold.

I write as a long-time human rights lawyer and observer of the trends in society regarding human rights and church-state relations. I am the founder of Freedom for All, a project operating in Bulgaria which has been involved in defending human rights for three decades through court cases, public speaking and events, and publications.

Here we will point out several general trends we see in the philosophy of the document. We also include a more detailed commentary.

We observe that the Recommendation, if followed as drafted, will facilitate the emergence of a tyrannical international and national regime/s that seek/s to impose unrelenting thought and speech control, and even emotional control, to the detriment of individual rights and fundamental human freedoms. The implementation of the Recommendation, as drafted, will most likely result in:

  • Violation of fundamental human rights (freedom of speech) under the pretext of defending human rights (allegedly the right to privacy and to non-discrimination).
  • The States will be punishing individuals for ideas and thoughts and their expression, and not for actions – a hallmark of any totalitarian regime. Introduction of “thought crimes” and “crimes based on feelings.”
  • Being used for persecution of political and ideological opponents due to unclear and vague terminology where the actual term “hate crimes” remains so broadly construed as to include all expression which a party may deem to fall into those broad categories. (Such parties will include the State and “stakeholders” who have vested interest in promoting certain ideologies).
  • Seeking to establish full control over thoughts and emotions where non-compliance will result in administrative and civil penalties, and even, astoundingly, criminal prosecution.
  • Coercion by the state (government) against the individual conscience and individual speech. Paradoxically the Draft empowers the State v. the individual, just opposite to the philosophy of the Convention (item 17).
  • Clear potential for violation of other fundamental rights, especially freedom of religion.
  • Introducing hyper-regulation, by making private (Internet) companies agents of State’s ideological policing, adding more useless bureaucracy, and more expenses for the taxpayer.

The Recommendation at issue must be fully abandoned as a failed attempt to exert the rule of law through social control and engineering done in drastic violation of individual rights and one of the most fundamental of all – for any free and just society – freedom of thought and speech. In general, the writing of more laws does not make for a better, fairer and more just and free society; legislating feelings, attitudes, thoughts, and expression, as suggested by the draft Recommendation, will only destroy any opportunity for a robust public discourse on issues of importance to society.

In addition, the peoples of the former communist countries are very weary of state directives dictated by one ideological center of thought under the threat of punishment. This Draft suggests nothing much different. The Council of Europe, or its member States, must not resort to divulging directives which will inevitably and drastically limit and largely eradicate one of the most fundamental rights that defines a free society and a democracy. Governments and States have no role in shaping their citizens’ worldviews and ideas. Just the opposite – they have a duty to protect the free flow of information, thoughts, and ideas, and such protections exhaust their role in a free and democratic society.

The Council of Europe was created to defend individual rights from state intrusion, not to fight human rights under the pretext of defending them (see preamble). The limitations on speech have been reasonably defined in art. 10(2) of the Convention and no further demotion of freedom of expression is necessary without threatening the very core philosophy of the ECHR and the purpose of CE.

Further Comments of the Criminalization of Speech

The following is not an exhaustive analysis and such is not necessary. Critiquing the principles in the preamble and a few examples from the rest of the document suffice to expose its anti-democratic nature.

The most concerning parts of the Draft Recommendation is that it seeks to punish as crimes not actions but speech and the dissemination of information.  Item “k” introduces the concept and points 12-17 of the Appendix of the document provide the specifics concerning criminal, administrative and civil prosecution of speech deemed to be “hate speech”. Item 12, found on page 7, criminalizes all speech related to any poignant public debate issue:

Member States should clearly specify in their national criminal law when hate speech is subject to criminal liability, such as incitement to hatred, violence or discrimination, denial, trivialisation, condoning and direct and public incitement to commit genocide, racist, xenophobic, sexist and LGBTI-phobic threats or, under the conditions set out in the Additional Protocol to the Cybercrime Convention, insults, denial of genocide, of crimes against humanity and dissemination of material that contains such expression.

Even if the holding of ideas depicted in the citation may be seen as morally reprehensible by some, the depiction of this broadly construed spectrum of thought, ideas, and expression which will be hunted down and prosecuted by the member States, assisted by the alleged “stakeholders”, and pretty much the whole of society, points to nothing less than draconian measures against freedom. There is no proportionality, legitimate purpose and acceptability in a democratic society which could be reasonably demonstrated by the Experts, in order to justify such a lust for mind control as demonstrated in the citation and the document as a whole. In addition, many European countries already have laws criminalizing behavior and some speech that may fall under the broad definition of “hate speech.”[2]

Comments on the Preamble and the Philosophy of the Draft

In general, the preamble has few recitations of the current protection of freedom of speech under Art. 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (ECHR). In contradiction to these recitals, the rest of the preamble is a forceful defense of a largely totalitarian approach to freedom of thought and speech.

Contending for Both Freedom of Speech and its Revocation (Rec. I; App. Item 17). Item “a” of the Preamble notes that human rights enshrined in the convention are indivisible, universal, and inter-dependent. Yet in item “c” the text reduces freedom of expression to a concept subject to severe limitations by redefining it. Adding the adjective “hate” to the right to free speech, the document turns one of the most fundamental human rights into a perceived threat to human rights. Speech is protected by the ECHR for that very reason for which it is being attacked in the document – it becomes a target to be stifled if it protects dissenting speech. The court case precedents of the European Court of Human Rights abound with examples along these lines.

Imposition of a Dominant Ideology by Coercion. Point “d” of the Preamble points to certain troubling aspects of social engineering trends in the document. It speaks of “understanding the root causes” and asserts that “countering hate speech is an important aspect of protection of human rights.” The document fallaciously asserts that somehow member States have the right to define ideas, thoughts and expression including by deciding which content of speech should be approved, tolerated, pushed forward and which not (see also Appendix point 8, page 6).

Lack of Definition. There is no clear, well-constructed, and dependable definition of “hate speech” yet it will be a criminal offense. In the draft hate speech is described as a “phenomenon” which has to be “combated” and also “tackled”. A definition is attempted no earlier than in items 3 and 12-17, of the Appendix of the Recommendation. The definition in 3 is broad and all-inclusive so no speech, respectively no “harmful” idea, seems to be left out of its scope (“all kinds of expression”). There is not even a need for the speech to result in violence to be criminalized, per this broad definition. “Incitement to violence” which should be criminalized, is not the same as “incitement to discrimination,” used in the definition and which is a broader and more fluid concept. It is also sufficient that an expressed opinion “justifies prejudice” in order to meet the broad criteria of a “hate speech crime.” One can imagine the intellectual sterility of a society where only allowed thoughts are being thought due to the impeding threat of being criminally prosecuted for an unapproved opinion.  

If we accept that “hate speech” is offensive, disturbing and shocking speech, it is then protected under ECtHR precedent (Handyside v. United Kingdom, 1976). If we accept that “hate speech” is some speech which is so drastically outrageous that that it is beyond offensive, disturbing, and shocking, and it has to be limited, then it could be limited under the rules of art. 10, sec. 2 of the ECHR. In such a case, each member state has already been given clear guidance under the ECHR as to how to tread this sensitive ground. A broad restriction on speech, as discussed here, will never be a legitimate purpose in a democratic society.[3] Yet the Draft clearly introduces a new category of speech which is still speech, but which must be limited beyond the exhaustively listed measures in Art. 10 (2) of the Convention, to the point of criminal prosecution.

The fluidity of the definition of “hate speech” is seen in item “j” of the Preamble. The call for unified terminology actually stems from the very fact that it is almost impossible to agree on the definition of “hate speech” as well as on how scrutiny should be applied without quickly descending into repealing the right to free expression. Maybe exactly because of the different understandings at “national and international levels” there should be no attempt to develop a common understanding of the concept. Developing such a “common understanding” is in fact an attempt to overcome an impossible hurdle in a strictly bureaucratic fashion. 

Violating human rights to protect human rights. In effect item “d” is targeting a fundamental human right (freedom of conscience and expression) in order to “protect” human rights. This targeting uses a rather militant language “combat” and later on “tackle” (j). This is a drastic departure of the principles of the Convention, which protects individual rights from undue State intrusion. Through the Draft Recommendation the State becomes an active actor in suppression of speech.

Freedom of religion and conscience will also be severely curtailed and trampled on. It is known that currently the protection of certain minorities allows for government attacks against men and women in their public expression of religious views, only because their religious views do not conform to the state-endorsed ideology (The case of Päivi Maria Räsänen of Finland, prosecuted for publicly sharing her biblical view of marriage is only one example). The tenets of many religions, and those of the Bible, will inevitably be seen and treated as contradicting a state-imposed “emerging morality” of same sex marriage and its introduction into the legal definitions of marriage in certain countries. Following the Recommendation any disapproval and disagreement with such policies, which are to be perceived as equality-driven, will result in persecution against Christians and other religious groups.

The very philosophy of the ECHR is to protect human rights from government interference. In a stark departure from this principle, the Draft seeks to reword, limit, and deny the exercise of a human right to the point where the governments of member States have to criminalize that fundamental right (see “h”). The idea presented in item “e” is that a right interferes with another right, therefore, the exercise of the former has to be limited.

Item “I” introduces privileges based on perceived victimhood. The mentioned “special protection” is in essence establishing privileges. The rights of certain minorities can be defended and protected efficiently under the current legal systems of member States with actions against libel, in tort law, and anti-discrimination administrative procedures. Prosecuting criminally speech on a large scale, even if it is hateful (as per whose perception and standards?), is a totalitarian approach to human rights. The rule of law requires equality under the law and such is not afforded here.

Spying and control over citizens in violation of their freedoms (Rec. iv). The Draft Recommendation requires “continuous and systematic monitoring” of “multiple threats” posed by perceived “hate” speech online and offline (Recommendation iv, p. 3 of the document). This is an open door for nothing less than establishing a police state which will be probing and possibly prosecuting people for holding the wrong view. The “right view” of course will be expounded by the State and the “stakeholders.”

State control over so-called Internet Intermediaries (Rec. iii; Ch. 3 of Appendix, Key Actors). The Internet has become the most essential publishing platform in the last decades. Controlling the internet, as suggested, will deprive members of the public of their right and ability to freely engage in exchange of information and public debate. As it currently stands, the Draft devotes significant attention to online “hate speech” and the responsibility of internet companies and Member States to deal with this “phenomenon.” There seems to be no substantive analysis of how freedom of expression is negatively impacted by the use of hate speech laws (freedom of expression as secured by Article 10 of the ECHR is only mentioned in a formulaic way in the draft report’s opening recitals). In fact, this push for member States to legislate and control Internet companies to ensure their full compliance with the so-called “hate speech” laws in fact turns the Internet companies into a policing extension of the State. Thus, the State thought police will effectuate private companies to become agents of such tyrannical policing of opinions and exchange of information.

States are prompted to “educate, raise awareness, and combat the dangers of “hate speech” (Ch. 4 of Appendix). In general, this approach is the State promoting a certain ideology. Even if such efforts on behalf of the state are construed as movement toward peace and harmony it does represent a totalitarian push toward state control and imposition of ideology through state power. Such developments are detrimental to a free and democratic society.

Politicized and Unnecessary. To introduce crimes based on how one feels about someone else, or to promote a right “not to be offended” where such a right merely does not exist, is clearly intrusive, unjust, and untypical of any free society. Criminalizing speech with a broad sweep will deprive the individual from the needed protection of their views, convictions, and dignity. To attempt to qualify expression as “hateful” requires the use of subjective, and often politicized criteria, which further threatens the due administration of justice and intrudes into the consciences and souls of people. However, the Draft Recommendation go even further – it establishes a mandate to turn emotions into crimes (hate); judgements of events, trends and people (trivialization), possibly including limiting scholarly research; even “insults” and the “denial of genocide” are crimes. Generally, the state (government) punishes actions, not thought: this is an essential principle in any free, just and democratic law-making legislature. Also, many member States already have existing national laws that criminalize to various extents speech that is deemed offensive and may fall into categories similar to “hate speech”.[4]

Legal Framework mentioned in Chapter 4, points 9-11. This is the most restrained appeal to the law and reason. Unfortunately, at the backdrop of the radical nature of the rest of the document these three points remain only wishful thinking.

In conclusion

The draft Recommendation may be well intentioned. It formally signifies the importance of freedom of expression under the Convention, but it is so imbalanced that in the end, the Draft Recommendation will have a chilling effect on one of the most fundamental human rights the Convention enshrines – freedom of expression. Any implementation of the Recommendation as drafted will be detrimental to any free and democratic society and will lead to the establishment of tyranny. Therefore, the Recommendation should be withdrawn.

Respectfully submitted,
Viktor Kostov


[1] The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Also referred to as the European Convention on Human Rights, and ECHR.

[2] See a list of countries in note 4.

[3] However, it is noteworthy that in the case of Vejdeland and Others v. Sweden app. No. 1813/07 the European Court of Human rights stepped back from its generally consistent protection of freedom of expression and found that no violation of Art. 10 of ECHR was committed by the criminal conviction of Vejdeland under Swedish national law. The court held that “insulting, holding up to ridicule or slandering certain groups of the population” could be considered “attacks on persons” thus equating speech with incitement to violence. This means that the prevailing ideology backed by political power will decide what speech is protected and what is to be criminalized. Thus humor, satire, critique, research, opinion, etc. may become, if not criminal, then borderline “criminal” speech. The result will be self-censored, censorship by third parties in order not to face criminal charges and investigation and deterioration of public debate and stymieing of intellectual and spiritual achievements. The cited decision by the ECtHR contradicts its broader minded decisions as in Handyside v. UK.

[4] Such nations in Europe are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.



The above text was submitted on Aug. 8, 2021. You can view the page of the counsultation at the Council of Europe web portal:


Address to the Intermarium Conference online

Role of NGO’s Promoting Individual Rights and Liberty in Light of the Geneva Consensus Declaration
April 29, 2021

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be a part of this forum, and as co-organizers we welcome all the ideas presented here in favor of the traditional family, natural human rights, and individual liberty. (Many greetings from Dr. Viktor Kostov who could not join us for this event, and whose statement I will read, on his behalf.)

Freedom for All is a human rights organization and publishing group working since 2000 and formally, as a registered non-profit, since 2004. Our goal is to especially defend freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of speech.

The Geneva Consensus Declaration is an important document which contains a number of provisions which enhance the role of women; protects their rights, and protects the traditional family. Such are article 2, emphasizing equal rights for women, article 3, that every human being has an inherent right to life, including the unborn; article 4, clearly stating that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning,” and article 5, allowing for the state and society to view the natural family as the “natural and fundamental unit of society.”

We are also pleased that article 7 affirms the importance of national sovereignty and the primary role of national governments in making policy decisions regarding health care, the so called “universal health coverage” while keeping in mind the local context.

In addition, we are pleased that the Declaration refers to the obvious truth that there is no international right to abortion as there could not be a right to end another human being’s life. It is also commendable that the document has the goal to “advance supportive public health policies” not just for women but also for families.

The role of NGO’s in the fulfilling of the goals of this Declaration may be twofold.

Firstly, to promote the ideas, and especially those mentioned above, in the Declaration on the local and international level, as good policy markers. Those are the support for the natural family, individual and natural rights, support of the right to life for the unborn, and the individual and family right to privacy and conscience.

Secondly, the NGO’s have an important role to be a corrective to the centralization of thought and power, as their role is to approach any issues from the perspective of the citizenry they serve. Of course, that role depends on how concerned the entity is with the well-being of the people, and to what extent it remains financially independent of these networks, especially influential international bodies, so that a citizen’s organization, as is the NGO, can really speak truth to power.

We are concerned with certain formulations in the Declaration. For example, article 6 speaks of universal health coverage which is necessary for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, related to well-being which is considered related to more than health. It is stated that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” This verbiage is sure unsettling as it aims to address more than one’s physical problems but also his or her mental, and, seemingly, spiritual well-being. One must remain aware that religious and Christian faith also aims, by the work and grace of God, at the wholeness of the person: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Religious or quasi-religious overtones may not be emanated in any form by any policy or document that seeks to help people and which are obviously not religious in their purpose. Help should not aim to control.

This so-called “holistic approach”, combined with bureaucratic mechanisms for its implementation may not be allowed to turn into a “total” and rather intrusive approach, which threatens individual rights, privacy and dignity. The sustainable development also looks into the wellbeing of the whole, of the corporate; and the well-being of the individual is somewhat buried in the grand project for control of future developments on a large scale.

It is our role, it is the role of human rights and religious freedom organizations, NGO’s, to safeguard the freedom and religious conscience and dignity of each one individual person, their privacy and their rights, and guard even against the UN programs on health and sustainable development hampering those rights. The role of NGO’s is crucial in maintaining the safeguards for natural individual freedoms.

The proper balance we seek can also be guaranteed by the strong language on national sovereignty found in the Declaration. It is our task to help ensure the UN remain within its initial goals, to facilitate the conversation between people’s and sovereign nations, and not turn into a totalitarian superstate overwhelming sovereign nations and individuals with health care, protection, and development plans that control rather than care.

We believe that if the Geneva Consensus Declaration is seen through those lenses it will fulfill the purpose to protect human faith, dignity, and purpose. It is our goal to do likewise. Thank you.

Viktor Kostov, Ph.D.
lawyer, missiologist

Website of the conference:


(Note: You can view and download a the PDF version of this text from the EU web site here



Re: The European Commission (EC) roadmap consultation on the inclusion of ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate crime’ as EU crimes (Article 83(1) TFEU).[1]

April 20, 2021

Freedom for All is a human rights and public debate organization dedicated to the defense of personal freedoms. We have participated in cases and written legal opinions for the ECtHR, Bulgarian Supreme Courts, the Constitutional Court and the National Assembly and defended such opinions and views in the public square on various relevant topics.

A Summary of Our Response to the Road Map Proposal

As mentioned in the Road Map, the Commission’s initiative will aim to trigger a Council decision to extend the list of EU crimes in Article 83(1) TFEU to include hate speech and hate crime. It is our view that the Council of the European Union must abandon criminalizing free speech and establishing discrimination and privileges in criminal justice with the introduction of the categories “hate speech” and “hate crimes” in Art. 83 of TFEU. Otherwise, it is inevitable that the EU, in violation of its own founding principles and adopted human rights protection laws, will turn into a totalitarian bureaucracy which opposes individual freedom and punishes citizens for thought crimes. Arguments follow.

Why the Concept of “Hate Crimes” Should be Abandoned

The idea of a “hate crime” is a legal and philosophical misconception. No crime, especially the ones perpetrated against the person, as causing physical or property harm, is committed out of love and respect for that person. Hate is behind most and such crimes. To label some crimes against the person as “hate” is to justify all other crimes as less repugnant and worthy of criminal prosecution.

For the state and law enforcement to act as the judge of intent and morality and to impede on the idea that hate and love can be mandated by the state is absurd on its face. Morality and thought are a part of the individual’s freedom and they cannot be mandated or even strictly regulated by the state. The state in a democratic society can only regulate actions, and especially harmful actions. To mandate people what to think, and respectively, to exclude bias from their inner life is beyond the role of a state bureaucracy and law enforcement.

Those crimes addressed by the EU in this roadmap can be rectified not by creating a new penal category and new crime standards, but by applying proportionate penalty for the severity of the crimes committed. Creating new crime categories for crimes committed against each minority group will result in a fragmented and ineffective, and also highly discriminatory, criminal and prosecutorial system in the member states. Prosecution will inevitably also become politicized beyond any measure acceptable in a democratic and free society.

“According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) hate crimes are “criminal offences committed with a bias motive”. This widely recognised definition is also the one used in this study.”[2] Even this definition shows how inept is the attempt to attach an emotional and worldview element to criminal intent and action. Are criminals who commit a certain crime not allowed to have bias? They have gone so far as to commit usually violent physical attacks on persons and property recognized as crimes, and yet we expect them to have the proper thought process to alleviate their punishment for the crime? If a “bias motive” should be included as an element of the crime, then re-education must be part of the punishment. This concept becomes especially dangerous when the so-called “hate speech” becomes the hate crime itself (as seems to be proposed in the Road Map). In such a case re-education prisons or concentration camps will become necessary to punish people for the wrong thought and expression, according to that one institution, body, or authority that defines what thoughts are hateful, and which are not.

“Hate crime” laws will only impose regulations in the criminal jurisprudence which are incompatible with the criminal system of a free society but rather fit a tyrannical regime. To legislate the “morality” of the day in a pluralistic society to such an extent as to define what the acceptable emotional feelings and judgments are, and regulate the psyche of the individual, is beyond the task of any democratic legislation.

Why the Concept Of “Hate Speech” Laws Should Be Abandoned

Firstly, hate speech laws will likely be in violation of Art. 6 of the Treaties of the European Union (TEU), which commits the Union to the value of the European Convention on Human Rights. Similarly misconstrued is the idea of, and the plan to introduce “hate speech” laws that criminalize expression. As per the above mentioned “hate crimes” can we empower the government to decide in a pluralistic society what is “hate” and what is “love?” Can the state, or even the majority in a democratic society, impose values and emotional conditions that are not accepted voluntarily by all, as to how all should feel, and what level of moral approval or outrage should all exhibit in regards to certain speech, without the state and that society ceasing to be democratic and free? Of course, it is the state that most likely will adopt this role of an “arbiter” of various views, and will have to establish a “state ministry of truth” to control who hates and who loves. People can be easily offended and they can easily accuse anyone of “hate” who does not espouse their view on a given subject. We have seen this, and continue to witness it today, many times over. The result is prolonged, unnecessary litigation that eventually ruins the lives of people.

Secondly, the criminalization of speech on the EU level will collide with laws and principles of guarding freedom of speech. The member states have already adopted internal and international laws that protect free speech. EU member states recognize the European Convention on Human Rights and the respective Court in Strasbourg. Many other international treaties protect the free expression of opinions and views. Adoption of EU regulation in this realm will go against the strict description of limitations on free expression of the European Convention.

There are other concerns about “hate speech laws,” besides the clear contradiction with ECHR and other laws protecting freedom of expression and thought.

Who decides what “hate speech” is? Such laws require the judicial assessment of the content of certain speech, but the criteria for such assessment is unclear (moral and legal). The wording “hate speech” is vague, fluid, and subject to arbitrary interpretations and applications, resulting in injustices through the legal process.[3]

In this regard we must emphasize that “hate speech” laws are essentially subjective and work through approximations. The Council of Europe’s definition of hate speech employs such ambiguous concepts like “promote,” “justify,” “other forms of intolerance,” “hostility,” and “aggressive.” “Hate speech” is labeled such by the hearer and relies on his or her perceptions and feelings which makes it vague and elusive. No respectful democratic society will impose limitations on one of the main pillars of freedom, free thought and expression, by basically criminalizing opinions and a robust public debate.

“Hate speech” will increase state power by bestowing on state authorities to use those vague definitions to arbitrarily decide with what falls into the category of “hate,” and thus to justify policing of people’s opinions and even thoughts.

The adoption of “hate speech” laws on such a broad and far-reaching scale, criminalizing speech, not actions, and imposing such an ominous standard on the member states within the EU will starkly pave the road for the EU turning into a sinister force for oppression as a totalitarian super-state. The EU was never created with the intention to abandon reason, legal tradition, and individual rights in favor of establishing a monstrous bureaucratic thought-control machine. 

Any adoption of regulations on “hate speech” will be an unnecessary imposition of non-democratic principles onto a societal environment which needs robust and honest discourse. Criminalizing “hate speech” under Art. 83 of TFEU will be a heavy blow against the very principles on which the EU is built: of protection of democratic principles and individual rights as the stalwart of a free and democratic society.


Our Recommendations

Ideas and opinions should be freely expressed in a democratic society, as it is inevitable that individuals or groups will be offended by ideas they fundamentally disagree with. Any limitation of speech and expression has to be narrowly-defined, clearly defined, proportionate, legitimate, pursuing a clear aim and must ensure that less restrictive means do not exist. To make speech a crime, not physical actions and attacks, is a step toward policing indiscriminately the thought life and the freedom of expression of people.

Thus, no legislation limiting or criminalizing the so-called “hate speech” should be adopted. Speech must be regulated only when it is used to cause and/or incite imminent physical harm to others.

Any limitation on speech should be assessed objectively, by including the context in which it was carried out, and not take into consideration the subjective elements such as the perception of the hearer.

Any limitation on speech may not include the vague concepts of “incitement to discrimination or hatred.” So called “offensive” and “disturbing speech” should not be banned but allowed for a meaningful public debate and to engage citizens in the democratic process.

For similar reasons, as per the arguments listed above about “hate speech” the idea of elevating the status of so-called “hate crimes” must be abandoned.


In general, the Road Map poses a threat to individual freedoms as it aims to criminalize free speech beyond any tradition and principle of democratic societies and impose control on free thought by using the fluid and vaguely defined category of “hate speech.” Any regulations based on the ideas in the document will be in contrast and in possible violation of already adopted laws and treaties.

In regards to “hate crimes” the inclusion of the worldview (bias of motive) of the perpetrator of these crimes will further and unnecessarily deprive the judiciary of objective criteria on which to establish the extent of the crime, its effect on the victim and society, and a proportionate punishment. The rule that in a democratic society the state punishes actions, not thoughts, will be abandoned as a solid legal principle.

Thus, the Road Map paves the way to establishing harmful laws and regulations that will further erode essential individual freedoms which are the pillars of a free and democratic society. The Road Map, if implemented, will inevitably propel the EU toward becoming a massive totalitarian super-bureaucracy police state which eventually will lead to its rejection by the peoples of Europe.

Viktor Kostov, Ph.D.
lawyer, missiologist
Freedom for All


(Correction: A previous version stated "Council of Europe" in paragraph 3. It was corrected to read "Council of the European Union." This correction should be kept in mind when accessing the PDF report submitted to the EC.)


[1] See Hate speech & hate crime – inclusion on list of EU crimes (europa.eu).

[2] Hate speech and hate crime in the EU and the evaluation of online content regulation approaches, a Study requested by LIBE, July 2020, p. 22, Access at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/655135/IPOL_STU(2020)655135_EN.pdf.

[3] An example of the fluidity of thought behind the term “hate speech” is this attempt at a definition in the study requested by LIBE committee of the EP: “The term "hate speech" is used inclusively according to its everyday meaning, covering all expressions and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc., and for distinction of the legal category "criminal hate speech" or specifically "incitement to hatred" is used.” See Hate speech and hate crime in the EU and the evaluation of online content regulation approaches, a Study requested by LIBE, July 2020, p. 20, Access at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/655135/IPOL_STU(2020)655135_EN.pdf.

Advocate Dr. Viktor Kostov's speech,
presented at a discussion held on February 14, 2020, 11:00,
at the 44th National Assembly, East Hall


Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Members of Parliament,

Freedom for All (FFA) is a human rights and publishing group, active since 2004. We work to protect basic human rights and the traditional family.

Here is a brief summary of our joint opinion submitted to the National Assembly in November 2019 on the issue with ROD. Our position is completely critical of the letter and spirit of the Social Services Act (SSA), which has been delayed until 1 July 2020.

We draw attention to the fact that there is still no satisfactory legally reasoned response to our extensive criticisms of the Social Services Law.

The new SSA is tyrannical and anti-democratic legislation of philosophy and concept. The Social Services Act is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Constitution (CRB).

As a matter of principle, the SSA (ZSU -- abbreviation in Bulgarian) is a total law which, instead of the “social assistance” referred to in the CRB, introduces a “social service” that is universal and comprehensive, and in many cases obligatory, that is, provided against the will of the beneficiary. ZSU threatens the right to privacy and family life, the right and obligation of parents to raise their children, the right to a fair trial, etc. fundamental rights - ECHR - Art. 8, Art. 6 - and of the Constitution - Art. 32, para. 1, and Art. 47;

ZSU puts in opposition to each other parents and children, introducing and further perverting the idea of ​​children's rights as opposed to those of their parents. In this way, millennial legal principles and the natural bond between parents and children are being violated and the traditional family is being deconstructed.

The law privatizes and makes a commercial profit of the idea of ​​human mutual assistance and virtue.

It enables foreign traders and legal entities to act on the territory of the country, including without a license, and in violation of national sovereignty. The law virtually deprives Bulgarian citizens living in Bulgarian territory of the protection of the Bulgarian Constitution and the European Convention.

Under ZSU complete and centralized databases with personal information of parents and their children are formed, with full access to those by local and foreign actors and organizations.

ZSU extends the powers of social services and providers of social services excessively and in violation of a number of laws, turning them into coercive bodies without adequate judicial control and supervision, and without adequate protection of the rights of parents and children.

In general, the ideological charge behind the SSA and related child protection legislation contains elements of social engineering and does not respect the millennial traditions of the Bulgarian people, religious customs and practices, as well as the fundamental essence of the natural family unit.

The shortcomings of the SSA are so significant and numerous that no attempts and draft amendments can correct the radical ideological and anti-democratic nature of the law.

The Social Services Act should be repealed in its entirety.