Romania Homosexuals Coming Out
Associated Press, September 14, 2000
By Alison Mutler
BUCHAREST, RomaniaFlorin Buhuceanu was studying to become a
theologian, until he decided to stop hiding the fact that he is gay.
Two years after quitting theology school, Buhuceanu, 30, does not regret publicly
announcing his sexual preferencea very rare decision in Romania. He now runs the
countrys only organization to promote gay rights, even though he lost friends and
receives abusive telephone calls.
While his thinking brings him closer to the Europe of which Romania desires to be a
part, it puts him at odds with the influential Romanian Orthodox Church, whose top clergy
this week are fighting to convince lawmakers that homosexual behavior must be kept illegal
"We want to enter Europe, not Sodom," Bishop Bartolomeu Anania said as the
Holy Synod began this week, referring to the biblical city of sexual vice. He wants a
national referendum on whether homosexuality should be legal.
"The church rejects tainted love in order to protect and promote the holy love
that God desires," Patriarch Teoctist wrote in a letter to parliament. "Europe
will receive us at their bosom the way we are," he wrote, urging lawmakers to keep
legislation that makes public displays of homosexual behavior illegal.
Still, in June, the Chamber of Deputies scrapped communist-era legislation that
discriminates against gays and criminalizes homosexual behavior that causes "a public
The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation soon, just two months ahead of
general elections. Gay activists fear that with elections around the corner, lawmakers may
be reluctant to oppose the Orthodox Church, to which almost 90 percent of Romanians
"The Orthodox Church is hypocritical and immoral," said 59-year-old writer
Dominic Brezianu, who now lives in Richmond, Calif. "Some of the highest level
prelates were notorious for their immoral collaboration (with the communists) and they
meet as a synod.... to condemn in their obscure ignorance."
Brezianu fled communist Romania in 1980 because he was harassed by authorities for
being a homosexual. Those attitudes linger in Romania, a conservative Balkan society.
A recent poll by the Foundation for an Open Society revealed that 77 percent of
Romanians would not want to be the neighbor of a homosexual. But there are also signs that
the stranglehold of fear and prejudice is easing.
Romanian newspapers are beginning to write about homosexuals without the intolerance
that characterized the early 1990s. Local disco Casablanca is welcoming gays, offering
security to the clientele, and Brezianu launched a volume of Homo-erotic poems called
"Stopovers" on Tuesday.
The International Gay and Lesbian Association is planning its annual conference in
October in Bucharest, which could anger the church and anti-homosexual groups.
In a letter to parliament, Buhuceanu appealed to legislators to put human rights above
"We know that different religious institutions are putting on pressure to maintain
anti-homosexual legislation, but Romania is a secular state and your responsibility is to
pass laws that respect human rights," he wrote.
[Home] [World] [Romania]