Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gays Tell Romania to Stop Treating Them as Criminals

Reuters, October 4, 2000

By Karin Popescu

BUCHAREST — Gays and lesbians said on Wednesday they will ask the Council of Europe to resume monitoring Romania unless it stops treating them as criminals.

"Ten years after the fall of communism, Romania is the only Council member state which denies rights to gays,’’ Florin Buhuceanu, president of Accept, Romania’s only gay rights group, said on the eve of a gay and lesbian meeting in Bucharest.

The International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA), which will hold a pan-European conference in the Romanian capital, said Romania had failed to make promised reforms of laws that make homosexuality a crime.

Buhuceanu said Justice Ministry figures show that 432 gays and lesbians were now in jail on charges related to article 200.

Homosexual behaviour is punishable in Romania with jail terms of up to five years.

Romania, which started European Union membership talks earlier this year, has pledged to reform its legal system in line with Western standards and remove the controversial article 200 of the criminal code which incriminates homosexuality.

But the gay rights activists said it had failed to do so.

"We will be requesting the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe to re-introduce the monitoring of Romania to ensure that it meets the human rights obligations that it has undertaken,’’ Nigel Warner, the ILGA’s co-delegate to the council, told reporters.

"Romania’s failure to repeal article 200 was a deception of the international community,’’ added Kurt Kickler, also an ILGA co-delegate to the Council.

"We will insist that Romania will at all point honour all human rights obligations when it is accepted to join the EU,’’ he added.

In 1997, the Council stopped monitoring Romania after the former communist country made some progress on democratic reforms and gave Romania one year to amend legislation.

But so far, only parliament’s lower Chamber of Deputies voted to decriminalise gay sex, which has been illegal in Romania since 1968. The upper Senate has yet to vote the bill.

Last month, the Orthodox church, which claims the allegiance of 87 percent of Romanians, urged parliament not to amend legislation on homosexuality, which it considers as a sin running counter to Christian values.

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