Romanian Elections Marred by Antigay Politics
Advocate, November 24, 2004
Romania’s leading gay rights organization urged the
ruling party Tuesday not to incite citizens against gays and lesbians to gain
advantage in a closely disputed election campaign. Gay rights has become one
of the central issues ahead of Sunday’s elections in light of centrist
presidential candidate Traian Basescu’s comments that he supports equal
rights for gays and lesbians.
The dominant Orthodox Church condemned Basescu’s
statements, and the ruling Social Democratic Party has used the statements
against Basescu, who is the mayor of Bucharest. “Human rights and the rights
of a sexual minority should not become an issue in the elections,” said
Florin Buhuceanu, who heads Accept, Romania’s main gay rights group.
Buhuceanu also condemned “the way in which the Social Democratic Party is
trying to use this topic, by inciting Romania’s population against sexual
minorities, when the level of discrimination is high anyway.”
In a campaign speech October 29, the Social Democratic
Party’s executive chairman, Octavian Cozmanca, called Basescu “satan on
Earth and not a real Christian who understands the Romanian faith.” “You
cannot make national policy about homosexuals,” he added.
Romania holds presidential and parliamentary elections on
Sunday. According to polls, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and Basescu are the
main contenders to become president, and their parties are neck-and-neck in
the parliamentary race. Buhuceanu praised Basescu for his support of gay
rights. “Nobody has made such statements in favor of respecting the rights
of a sexual minority,” he said. Buhuceanu said fliers showing Basescu’s
picture next to two men who are kissing are being distributed. No party has
claimed responsibility for the fliers. Basescu has replied to the attacks by
making veiled statements questioning Nastase’s sexual orientation.
Homosexuality was a crime in Romania until two years ago,
when the government removed the offense from the penal code to comply with
demands from the European Union, which Romania hopes to join in 2007.
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