Last edited: April 28, 2007
- Statute: Article 200, Repealed July 9, 2001
- Penalty: 5 years
- Restrictions: Same-sex only
Romanian law currently punishes being gay with up to five years behind bars. Despite
pledging to decriminalise homosexuality in 1993, the new law passed in 1996 prohibits
homosexual acts where a "public scandal" is caused. Simply being gay in Romania
is so scandalous that all sexual minorities are at risk from this provision which carries
a five year penalty.
The law bans gay bars, meetings, associations, bars, clubs, organisations, help lines,
media or "or any act of proselytism". The idea is that Romanians will be free to
lesbian or gay just as long as not a single other person finds out. Break the law and you
face a five year jail sentence.
Romanian police stations still keep "pink lists" or books which hold names,
addresses and photographs of "known" or "suspect" lesbians and gay
men. Once arrested gay men have been shown albums full of pictures of previous offenders
under Article 200. Human Rights activists have strong evidence that prisoners have been
"encouraged" to implicate others for Article 200 offences.
The original text of the more important paragraphs of Article 200 was as follows:
"1. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex are punishable by imprisonment
of one to five years.
4. Inciting or encouraging a person to practice the acts described in paragraph 1 is
punishable by imprisonment of one to five years."
The more important paragraphs of the revised Article 200 are as follows:
"1. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex, committed in public or if
producing public scandal, are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.
5. Inciting or encouraging a person to the practice of sexual relations between
persons of the same sex, as well as propaganda or association or any other act of
proselytism committed in the same scope, is punishable by imprisonment of one to
(Translations from "PUBLIC SCANDALS: Sexual Orientation and Criminal Law in Romania",
by Human Rights Watch where the full texts can also be found in Appendix 1)
Comments on the new law:
(All references are to "PUBLIC SCANDALS: Sexual Orientation and Criminal Law in Romania")
Paragraph 1 - " public scandal"
This term is completely undefined in the penal code. HRW and IGLHRC consulted many officials on their interpretation of the term. Their opinions were "strikingly, and dangerously inconsistent, on many points. On whether the law can be enforced against acts performed in privacy, however, both those who created the law and those who will enforce it agree that it can". "The new language effectively makes it impossible to determine whether an act constitutes an infraction until after it is committed and publicized: the offense consists less in the specific character of the deed, or in its motive, than in others reactions to it. Opinion rather than evidence becomes the final arbiter of guilt. "Our criterion is the mentality of the community where the deed is committed," one prosecutor said, adding, "our community of course does not view this phenomenon with favorable eyes." The language even points to the possibility that the authorities themselves can create, then confirm, public scandal by publicizing the details of a case."
As to what degree of publicity was needed for sexual relations to become a "public scandal", opinions differed: several officials suggested it would require only two or three people to be offended.
Paragraph 1 - "In Public"
Article 152 of the Romanian penal code defines this term very restrictively, including, for example "a place which by nature or purpose is always accessible to the public, even if no person is present". However, as HRW/IGLHRC point out, the "Public Scandal" term is so all-embracing that the entire distinction between "private" and "public" acts is rendered moot.
"Beyond this, though, the new Article 200s criminalization of homosexual acts "committed in public" is clearly discriminatory. There is no corresponding provision of the penal code which criminalizes, or even mentions, heterosexual acts committed in public".
Paragraph 5: - "Inciting or encouraging"
This criminalises even the attempt to engage in a sexual relationship.
Paragraph 5 - "propaganda, association, or any act of proselytism"
- Clashes Mark
Romanian Gay Pride - BBC News,
June 4, 2006
Militant protesters trying to break up a gay rights march in the Romanian
capital, Bucharest, have clashed with riot police who made dozens of
Arrests Mar Romanian Gay Pride - 365Gay.com,
June 4, 2006
A gay pride march through central Bucharest turned into a riot on Saturday
with police resorting to tear gas to gain control of more than a thousand
protestors bent on disrupting the parade. Nuns and priests were among the
crowd that lined the streets hurling eggs and bottles at the gay marchers
as they passed by.
Anti-Gay Protesters Clash with Police - Reuters,
June 3 2006
Ten people were injured and dozens detained when militant protesters
trying to break up a gay rights march clashed with riot police in the
- Romania Elects Pro-Gay, Anti-Corruption
President - UK
Gay News, December 13, 2004
- Romanian Elections Marred by Antigay Politics
- November 24, 2004
- Romania Steps Closer to EU after Article 200
Eliminated - February 15, 2002
- Special Christmas for Romanian Gays -
December 26, 2001
- Romania Lifts Gay Ban; Church Objects -
December 24, 2001
- Romania’s Gays Celebrate End of Ban -
December 20, 2001
- Romania Decriminalizes Gay Relationships -
July 10, 2001
- Romania Moves To Remove Last Anti-Gay Law -
June 23, 2001
- Romanian Government Passes Bill Decriminalizing
Gay Sex - June 23, 2001
- Romania Moves to End Discrimination Against Gays
- June 22, 2001
- Pro-Gay Pols Take Issue with Romanian PM -
June 8, 2001
- ILGA Presses Romania to Repeal Anti-Gay Laws - October 20,
- International Conference Opens in Romania - October 5, 2000
- Bucharest Threatened With Formal EU Complaint - October 5,
- Gay Romanians Seek Repeal of Sodomy Law - October 5, 2000
- Gays Tell Romania to Stop Treating Them as Criminals -
October 4, 2000
- Romania to Repeal Sodomy Law - September 26, 2000
- Romania to Legalize Gay Sex to Show its Tolerance to EU -
September 22, 2000
- Romania Homosexuals Coming Out - September 14, 2000
- Romania Orthodox Church Denounces Homosexuality - September
- Romania Bans Discrimination - September 6, 2000
- Romanians Still Protest Law Reform - July 28, 2000
- Romanian Law Reform Protested - July 11, 2000
- Romania Deputies OK Sodomy Reform - June 28, 2000
- Romanian MPs Vote to Decriminalise Homosexuality - June 28,
- Romania Risks European Scrutiny Over Slow Reforms - June 27,
- Gay Outlaws in Romania - August 10, 1999
- Romania rejects decriminalising gay sex - June 30, 1998
- New government, new promises from Romania - April 22, 1998
- Amnesty Criticizes Romania - April 21, 1998
- Cetiner Release Confirmed - March 29, 1998
- Romanian President Will Pardon - March 27, 1998
- Romanian leader pardons lesbian before Dutch trip - March 5,