Last edited: February 14, 2005

Bucharest Threatened With Formal EU Complaint

DataLounge, 5 October 2000

BUCHAREST, Romania — Representatives of gay and lesbian Romanians said on Wednesday they will formally petition the Council of Europe to resume human rights monitoring in Romania unless the government repeals laws criminalizing homosexuality, the Reuters news agency reports.

"Ten years after the fall of communism, Romania is the only Council member state which denies rights to gays," said Florin Buhuceanu, president of Accept, Romania’s only gay civil rights group.

The Romanian capital is playing host this week to a meeting of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA), which will hold its annual pan-European conference in Bucharest. Buhuceanu said Romania had failed to make good on promises that outlawed consensual gay relations between adults.

Buhuceanu said his country’s Justice Ministry figures show 432 gays and lesbians were now serving jail time on charges related to article 200 in the country’s penal code. Gay relations, outlawed in the statute, are punishable in Romania with jail terms of up to five years.

Romania, which started European Union membership talks earlier this year, has made repeated pledges to repeal its harsh anti-gay laws and bring its legal system in line with other European states.

Romanian legislators in the Chamber of Deputies voted in June to decriminalize homosexuality, but they maintained terms of up to five years in jail for certain sexual activities, including "abnormal practices, oral and anal sex" if performed in public. Even the modified legislation stalled in the Senate in the face of fierce opposition from the Romanian Orthodox Church.

"The church rejects tainted love in order to protect and promote the holy love that God desires," Patriarch Teoctist wrote in a letter last month to parliament. "Europe will receive us at their bosom the way we are."

Gay civil rights advocates have reacted with an organized show of resistance and vowed to do everything in their power to prevent an improvement in ties until the penal code is amended or abolished.

"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," said Nigel Warner, the ILGA’s co-delegate to the council.

"Romania’s failure to repeal article 200 was a deception of the international community," said fellow ILGA co-delegate Kurt Kickler. "We will insist that Romania will at all point honor all human rights obligations when it is accepted to join the EU."

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