Last edited: February 14, 2005

Romanian leader pardons lesbian before Dutch trip

Reuters, March 5, 1998

BUCHAREST - Romanian President Emil Constantinescu has pardoned a lesbian imprisoned under a criminal code which still considers homosexuality a crime, according to documents published on Thursday.

The daily Adevarul printed a list of presidential pardons including one granted to Marina Cetiner, who had completed two years of a three-year jail sentence for "luring another woman into sexual intercourse."

The decree was signed on the eve of Constantinescu's departure on Thursday for a two-day visit to the Netherlands. Cetiner's pardon was one on a long list applying mostly to criminals serving sentences of less than three years for offences like robbery.

Adevarul said Constantinescu would be confronted by Dutch protesters denouncing laws which still list homosexuality as a crime punishable by up to five years in prison if it causes public scandal.

Treatment of homosexuals has prompted protests from human rights groups, despite improvements in Romania's human rights record since the 1989 collapse of communist rule and changes in the criminal code to ease the ban on homosexuality. Gay sex was legalised in 1996 subject to certain conditions.

Activists of international gay and lesbian rights group said in January that Romania, along with the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia and Macedonia, were the only countries in Europe which still had penalties for homosexual activity.

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