ILGA Presses Romania to Repeal Anti-Gay Laws
20 October 2000
BUCHAREST, RomaniaThe struggle between Romanias government and the
European Union over Bucharests treatment of its gay and lesbian citizens came to a
head again this month, as the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay
Association held its 22nd annual conference in Bucharest.
Some 100 mostly European participants attended the conference, which largely focused on
how the EU can promote gay civil rights in countries like Romania that wish to join the
Romanias record on civil rights for gays is among the worst in Europe.
Homosexuality has been aggressively prosecuted here since 1936a policy continued
by the communists and supported more recently by the Romanian Orthodox church. The
conference is timely, since the Romanian Senate is again preparing to vote on whether to
strike down Article 200, a law prohibiting same sex relations.
"Everyone thinks Europe is a wonderful place for [Gay] people, but they sometimes
forget the Balkans, Eastern and Southern Europe," said Kursad Kahramanoglu,
co-executive director of the IGLA. "We have dreams about a world in which
discrimination is eliminated. The fact that we are here in Romania today is a great sign
that we will get there."
"The current penal code still discriminates against sexual minorities, which makes
the ILGA-Europe conference an extraordinary fact in Romania," said Florin Buhuceanu,
president of ACCEPT, the Romanian gay civil rights group who hosted the conference.
"For us in Romania, it means a sign of solidarity. Your presence here reaffirms with
power your constant preoccupation for protecting the rights of minorities. This is a
fundamental issue for Romania today."
Organizers expected protests, even asking the mayor of Bucharest for protection, but
there were few. A handful of people waved signs on the opening day of the conference, but
that was before most of conferees got there. Also, there was a prayer vigil attended by
around 100 people in front of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral, one of the
centers of resistance gay rights in Romania.
ILGA-Europe released a statement at the end of the conference, saying "Conference
organizers were pleased to note that weeklong demonstrations called by right-wing and
religious organizations failed to materialize. This was seen as evidence that public
opinion in Romania is increasingly accepting of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
Romania has long sought membership in the European Union in order to get much-needed
economic aid. But gay rights in general, and article 200 in particular, have been sticking
points. Prime minister Vasile promised when he came to power in 1988 to cooperate with the
EU market reforms and human rights standards. But the Minister of Justice warned in June
that unless the country takes steps soon to repeal its anti-gay laws, the country could
lose the progress it has made towards EU membership.
[Home] [World] [Romania]