Last edited: February 14, 2005

ILGA Presses Romania to Repeal Anti-Gay Laws

DataLounge, 20 October 2000

BUCHAREST, Romania—The struggle between Romania’s government and the European Union over Bucharest’s 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 union.

Romania’s record on civil rights for gays is among the worst in Europe. Homosexuality has been aggressively prosecuted here since 1936—a 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 transgendered persons."

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]