Romanian MPs Vote to Decriminalise Homosexuality
Reuters, June 28, 2000
By Karin Popescu
BUCHAREST Romanian deputies voted on Wednesday to decriminalise
homosexuality but decided to maintain jail terms for overt sexual activity.
The move to decriminalise homosexuality, which has been illegal in Romania since 1968,
was part of attempts to boost the eastern European countrys record on human rights
to improve its prospects of joining the European Union.
Gay activists criticised the vote, saying it still discriminated against them.
"Punishing by law a group of people is discriminatory. MPs did nothing but played
with words," Adrian Coman, executive manager of Accept, Romanias only
association dealing with gay rights, told Reuters.
The Romanian parliaments lower Chamber of Deputies voted to maintain a
stipulation in the criminal code setting jail terms of up to five years for "abnormal
sexual practices, including oral and anal sex, if performed in public."
The law does not specify whether it concerns heterosexuals or homosexuals but gay
activists argue that the reference to oral and anal sex targets them..
To become effective, the vote must be also endorsed by parliaments upper house,
The ruling centrist coalition is seeking to amend the countrys criminal code in
line with suggestions on improving human rights put forward by the Council of Europe.
"MPs didnt seem to understand what it is all about. They eliminated one
article but kept another one maintaining different treatments for heterosexuals and
homosexuals. They persist in discriminations, despite the Council of Europes
recommendations," Coman said.
In 1997, the Council stopped monitoring Romania after the former communist country made
some progress on democratic reform. It gave the country a year to amend legislation.
Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica warned on Tuesday that delaying legal reforms could put
Romania under the Council of Europe scrutiny again and jeopardise its EU accession talks
started earlier this year.
"It is sad that Romania remains on a list with Armenia, Chechnya and the (Bosnian
Serb) Republika Serbska where homosexuals are still criminalised and discriminated
against," Coman said.
He said that Romania lagged behind other former communist states which had already
Gay activists say that homosexuals are as badly treated in Romania since before the
fall of communism in 1989.
"The only improvement is that now we have hope that sometime we might be treated
as equals to any other human being," he said.
Coman, while unable to give any data or numbers on gays and lesbians in Romania, said
human rights watchdogs estimated that thousands of homosexuals had been put in jail,
thrown out of their jobs and houses, committed suicide or fled the country since 1989.
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