International Conference Opens in Romania
Only Tiny Protest Outside as Annual Gathering Begins
October 5, 2000
By Will OBryan
BUCHAREST, Romania The International Lesbian and Gay
Association-Europe started its 22nd annual conference Wednesday amid media enthusiasm and
a small protest. According to Adrian Coman, director of the Romanian host organization
ACCEPT, about seven detractors he described as Christian nationalists stood outside the
conference site hotel waving banners against legalizing homosexuality. The Romanian Senate
has yet to vote on abolishing Article 200, the law that prohibits "same-sex
relations" if they cause "public scandal."
In the wake of Wednesdays brief protest, which occurred prior to the arrival of the
roughly 100 conference attendees, a handful of Romanian police in gray camouflage uniforms
have been standing guard near the entrance of the conference at the Best Western Hotel
"We thought that there might be opposition protests," Coman said.
"Before the conference, we contacted the minister of the interior and the mayor of
Bucharest," said Coman, explaining that guards were at the ready.
Despite the minor controversy, the mood inside the site was jovial Wednesday as
conference participants arrived later Wednesday from across Europe. ACCEPT counted 54
domestic and international media outlets at their pre-meeting press conference Wednesday
"This opposition is not strong," said Coman, despite the fact that he has
also received a string of verbal threats on his personal phone number this week, which he
says the police are investigating. "There is no public support [for the opposition].
In general, Romanians are not very sympathetic to ... [Article 200]."
Beyond Romanian politics, a broader theme of the ILGA-Europe conference is finding ways
for Gays in Western Europe to assist their counterparts in Eastern Europe, such as
workshops focusing on using European Union measures that demand member states protect
residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As an example, Romania has applied to join the European Union. The European Commission
of the EU pointed to Article 200 as a hurdle to possible ascension to the Union, stating
"the Romanian penal code has still to be brought in line with European standards on
issues such as homosexuality." The EU has also been critical of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and
Hungary on similar sexual orientation related grounds.
The ILGA-Europe 22nd annual conference runs through Sunday, Oct. 8.
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