LGBT rights in Romania

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LGBT rights in Romania
Location of  Romania  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Romania  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1996,
age of consent equalized in 2002
Gender identity/expression Change of legal sex allowed since 1996, following sex reassignment surgery
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections since 2000 (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex relationships
Adoption -

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Romania may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Romania, like a number of other Eastern European countries, remains socially conservative with regard to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens. Despite this, the country has made significant progress in LGBT rights legislation since 2000. In the past decade, it has fully decriminalised homosexuality, introduced and enforced wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws, equalised the age of consent and introduced laws against homophobic hate crimes.[1][2] Furthermore, LGBT communities have become more visible in recent years, as a result of events such as Bucharest's annual GayFest pride parade and Cluj-Napoca's Gay Film Nights festival. In 2006, Romania was named by Human Rights Watch as one of five countries in the world that had made "exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity."[3]

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

The Romanian Penal Code of 1864, modelled on the French Penal Code, did not treat homosexual relations differently from heterosexual ones, and thus, homosexuality was only illegal if it was done on an unconsensual basis.[4] This code remained in effect for almost three-quarters of a century. Then in 1937, a new code limited reference to homosexuality except in cases of rape. A short time later, Article 431 was introduced, stating that homosexuality could be illegal if it caused "public scandal", but not otherwise. A repeal of that language then appeared in the Penal Code of 1948. In 1968, the basic code was again revised, introducing Article 200 and moving the infraction from the public domain into the private.[5]

There are currently no laws against gay citizens in Romania, aside from those that deny equality in marriage. Consensual acts between same-sex adults in private were legalised in 1996, although the last anti-gay law– Article 200 of the Penal Code, which criminalised public manifestations of homosexuality– was repealed only on 28 June 2000 due to pressure from the European Council and shortly before the arrival of openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest.

Since 2002, the age of consent has been equal for both heterosexual and homosexual sex, at 15 years of age.[6]

In late 2007, the far-right Greater Romania Party proposed a law in the Senate that would ban the "propagation of ideas and manifestations by homosexuals and lesbians", designed primarily to prevent Bucharest's annual GayFest pride parade from taking place. The proposal was rejected by the Senate on 11 February 2008, with 17 votes for, 16 abstentions and 27 votes against.[7]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

Since 1996, it has been possible for someone who has gone through sex reassignment surgery to legally change their sex in their official documents.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

In April 2013, a debate on legalizing same-sex unions was held by Parliament and rejected.[8]

In April 2013, the Green Party MP Remus Cernea announced[9] a proposed law that would give same-sex marriages the same rights as heterosexual ones, prompting fierce reactions[10] from opponents of the move. On 7 July 2013, Cernea introduced the bill in the Senate, awaiting to receive reports and approvals from the entitled Parliamentary Committees in December 2013.[11][12]

Adoption and family planning[edit]

See also: LGBT parenting

It is legal for single women, including lesbians, to access means of assisted insemination, such as IVF.[13] In 2005, the Constitutional Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny medically assisted reproduction, such as IVF, to individuals or those who are unmarried.[14]

Military service[edit]

Gays are allowed to serve openly in the Romanian army. According to the Ministry of Defence's recruitment policy, "it is the right of every Romanian citizen to take part in the military structures of our country, regardless of their sexual orientation."[15] Nonetheless, many– if not most– gay and lesbian members of the military choose to remain closeted in the work place due to continued fear of discrimination.

Discrimination protections[edit]

In 2000, the Romanian Parliament enacted a law that explicitly outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a variety of fields, including employment, the provision of and access to goods and services, housing, education, health care, audiovisual programming, the justice system, other public services and social security.[16] The law, which is among the most comprehensive in the European Union,[17] has been successfully tested by the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD), Romania's equality body, which has fined a number of individuals and firms for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. An example of this was when TAROM, the national air carrier, was fined for refusing to allow same-sex partners to take advantage of its discounts for couples on Valentine's Day 2005.[18] Aside from imposing a fine, the CNCD obliged TAROM to rectify the situation.

Constitutional protection against discrimination[edit]

On 5 June 2013 a Parliamentary Committee for reviewing the Constitution voted to include sexual orientation as a protected ground against discrimination in the new Constitution. The same committee voted, the following day, to change the current marriage law form, which describes marriage as "a consensual union between spouses", to the more restrictive form, describing it "as a union between a man and a woman alone", thus banning same-sex marriage.[19] Faced with a series of backlashes from civil society and domestic and international organizations, such as ACCEPT and Amnesty International,[20] the committee retracted both amendments. Dozens of NGOs protested the move (to retract the Constitutional protection against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation) and said "members of the Committee for Constitutional Revision deny the protection for the citizens who most need it" and that "as a Member State of the European Union, it is mandatory for Romania to implement the provisions of Community law in the national legislation." [21]

Green Party MP Remus Cernea, which is a staunch supporter of LGBT right and which has since introduced a draft law to the Senate in order to legalize civil unions,thinks of the move as a "clear a democratic setback; Romania should now be included among the most homophobic countries in the world."[22]

Hate crimes legislation[edit]

The Romanian legal system treats homophobic intent as an aggravating factor in common crimes.[14] That is, the fact that a crime was motivated by homophobic bias may lead to a higher sentence.

Laws against anti-LGBT speech[edit]

In 2006, the Criminal Code was amended in order to criminalise incitement to hatred and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.[14] However, this law has not been applied yet; indeed, public marches against homosexuality by extreme right-wing activists, containing offensive anti-gay slogans, have proceeded on several occasions without being prosecuted.

2007 "Cronica Cârcotaşilor" incident[edit]

On 28 March 2007, the National Audiovisual Council gave a 10,000-lei (3000) fine to Prima TV's primetime satire-comedy show, Cronica Cârcotaşilor, for making homophobic comments.[23] In two episodes, the show's presenters had allegedly made fun of Mircea Solcanu, an Acasă TV presenter who had come out as gay. The president of the National Audiovisual Council, Ralu Filip, justified the fine by stating that, "I felt it was unacceptable the way in which they made fun of a sexual orientation in this way, especially since it was about a colleague."[24] This represents the first time an audiovisual programme has been fined for homophobia in Romania, based on Article 46 of the Audiovisual Law, which prevents programmes from containing any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.[25] The incident sparked off a public debate regarding homophobia and representations of LGBT people in the mass media. Attila Gasparik, the vice-president of the National Audiovisual Council, stated that Cronica Cârcotaşilor, as well as other high-profile TV shows, will continue being held under "strict observation. .. because they have a very high impact, reason for which we have to be very rigorous in our monitoring".[26]

2012 Incidents[edit]

On 7 November seven young persons were assaulted in Bucharest at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration after attending an academic debate about the history of homosexuality in Romania.[27]

2013 Incidents[edit]

On 11 February 2013[28] during the LGBT History Month, students at the George Cosbuc Bilingual High School were taught about LGBT issues and why they matter during an extra curricular seminar, they were told about Gay Pride demonstrations, and encouraged to participate in the school’s activities during LGBT History Month. A number of parents, right wing NGOs, and a judge have publicly protested against this initiative, and have written to the government and to the parliament and asked for these activities to cease immediately. The open letter contained complaints mostly based on religious grounds. There is now an official inquiry into this initiative.

On the evening of 20 February a screening of the film The Kids Are All Right was violently interrupted in Bucharest at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant by around 50 extreme right militants who stopped the screening a few minutes after it had started. The screening took place as part of the LGBT History Month at the museum. The anti-gay group verbal assaulted film-goers calling them ‘beasts’, ‘scum’ and chanting ‘Death to the homosexuals’, ‘we don’t want you here’, and ‘you are not Romanians’. Besides the assault, militants also filmed and photographed attendants. The militants then proceeded to sing the Romanian national anthem and Christian Orthodox chants, and used religious symbols (icons) as well as fascist ones (the Nazi salutes).

Blood donation issues[edit]

Like the United States, the UK and several other Western countries, Romania currently bans men who have had sex with men from donating blood, due to a presumed higher risk of infection with STDs. However, in September 2007, Romania's National Council for Combating Discrimination ruled that this ban was illegal, constituting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and creating a "hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive atmosphere for homosexuals". The Council, which is Romania's equality watchdog, ordered the Ministry of Health to remove the ban on MSMs donating blood.[29] In January 2008, in order to comply with the Council's ruling, the Ministry of Health released a new law which removes the ban on men who have had sex with men from donating blood. The law is currently in a stage of public debate.[30]

Social attitudes[edit]

Although the last anti-gay law, Article 200, was repealed in 2001, societal attitudes towards gay and lesbian citizens are still quite discriminatory, particularly in rural areas. GayFest pride marches in Bucharest have been met with significant and sometimes violent opposition from far-right groups (particularly Noua Dreaptă), even though police protected pride marchers from harm. Furthermore, Noua Dreaptă has organized "Marches for Normality" on the same day as the GayFest pride parade, with slogans against gay rights and the recognition of same-sex relationships.

Apart from Noua Dreaptă, there are a number of parties (including the Greater Romania Party, the Conservative Party and the Democratic Liberal Party) which have protested against gay festivals in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca.[31][32]

In September 2006, the British Council conducted a survey in various Romanian cities which, among other things, sought to ascertain the beliefs of Romanian young people (aged between 15 and 25) regarding LGBT rights. Of those surveyed, 39.1% believed that LGBT rights should be extended, 35.9% believed that the LGBT rights situation is satisfactory in Romania, while 15.6% of people stated that LGBT people have too many rights. 9.4% were undecided. Additionally, 71.9% of the young people surveyed stated that LGBT rights should be protected, indicating relatively high levels of acceptance among this demographic.[33]

A Eurobarometer survey on discrimination in the European Union, conducted in late 2006, revealed that attitudes towards discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were similar with those of other EU countries. 47% of Romanians believed that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was "widespread", slightly less than the EU average of 50%. Additionally, 55% of Romanians were in favor of specific measures to provide equal opportunity in employment despite sexual orientation, notably lower than the EU average figure of 66%. 67% of Romanians would agree to anonymously reveal their sexual orientation in the census, "if that could help combat discrimination in Romania", while only 16% would be totally opposed (lower than the EU average of 28%). 58% of Romanians believe that homosexuality was still a taboo in Romania, higher than the EU average of 48%, but lower than for countries such as Italy, Greece, Ireland, Austria and Sweden.[34]

Other opinion polls have shown Romanians to be more intolerant with regard to homosexuality, including a 2003 poll conducted by Gallup for the Institute for Public Policies. In the poll, 45% of respondents said homosexuals should not be treated the same as others in society; 37% thought homosexuality should be criminalized; and 40% thought homosexuals should not be allowed to live in Romania.[35] The Soros Foundation also conducted in June 2011 a survey[36] where 80% of the respondents feel that there is no justification for the acceptance of homosexuality even though it's not illegal since 2001.

On 3 April 2012,[37] the National Council for Combating Discrimination has released its report "Perceptions and Attitudes Regarding Discrimination in Romania"[38] with the following conclusions:

  • 18% of the respondents feel that homosexuals are discriminated very little.
  • 17% of the respondents believe sexual minorities are badly discriminated.
  • 31% responded that they would not feel comfortable at all around a homosexual person and 30% would feel slightly comfortable.
  • 63% have stated that they would be very much bothered if a same-sex person would try to make advances toward them.
  • 54% stated they would never have a meal with a homosexual.
  • 48% stated that they would be very disturbed if they found out that a family member was gay.
  • 40% would be equally disturbed if their children would learn from a gay teacher.

On 7 November 2012, the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy released a three part study. In part II,[39] the study notes the following level of tolerance toward homosexual persons:

  • 79.7% of those questioned would not want a homosexual neighbor
  • 53% preferred that homosexuality be outlawed (compared to 62% in 2006)

Living conditions[edit]

Open homosexuality is still uncommon outside of major urban centers, and rural gay and lesbian Romanians typically remain closeted. The largest and most visible LGBT communities exist in Bucharest and in Cluj-Napoca, which have some gay clubs and cultural events. GayFest pride marches have been held in Bucharest annually since 2005, organised by Accept, the largest organisation in Romania advocating for LGBT rights. There are also several events held in Cluj-Napoca by Be An Angel, another LGBT rights organisation. These include the annual Gay Film Nights, an international LGBT film festival, the Gay Prize Gala, which recognises those who have contributed to LGBT culture and rights, and Miss Travesty Romania, a transvestite beauty pageant.

Increased Internet access in the past few years has led to the development of a vibrant online LGBT media and blogosphere. Key online newsletters include Angelicuss and GayOne.ro. In October 2008, Be An Angel will launch Romania's first LGBT television channel, Angelicuss TV, which will only broadcast online.[40] At the same time, most traditional LGBT media has ceased operating; there are currently no print magazines or newspapers.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1996)
Equal age of consent Yes (since 2002)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (since 2000)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (since 2000)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (since 2006)
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes (since 1996)
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes (since 2005)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/romania-anti-gay-assault-seven-people091112
  2. ^ (Romanian)http://www.romanialibera.ro/actualitate/eveniment/hate-crimes-in-romania-a-fost-lansat-primul-site-de-monitorizare-a-infractiunilor-impotriva-grupurilor-vulnerabile-287134.html
  3. ^ On International Day Against Homophobia, Violations Mixed With Victories, Human Rights Watch
  4. ^ History of Romanian legislation on homosexuality
  5. ^ Mihnea Ion Năstase, "Gay and Lesbian Rights", in Carey, Henry F. Romania Since 1989: Politics, Economics, and Society, p.315-6. 2004, Lexington Books, ISBN 0-7391-0592-2.
  6. ^ World Legal Wrap Up Survey July 2006, ILGA
  7. ^ Propunere pentru interzicerea manifestărilor homosexualilor respinsă de Senat (Proposal for banning homosexual manifestations, rejected by the Senate), Adevărul, 11 February 2008
  8. ^ (Romanian) DEBATE legalization of gay civil partnerships. Lawmakers oscillate between "no" and "not quite"
  9. ^ http://www.eurotopics.net/en/home/presseschau/archiv/article/ARTICLE121678-Romania-needs-debate-on-gay-marriage
  10. ^ (Romanian) DEZBATERE Legalizarea parteneriatelor civile între homosexuali. Parlamentarii oscilează între „nu“ şi „nu prea“
  11. ^ http://www.cdep.ro/pls/proiecte/upl_pck.proiect?idp=17488&cam=1
  12. ^ Translated from the Romanian Wikipedia
  13. ^ Legal Survey of LGBT Rights Worldwide, PDF file
  14. ^ a b c European Fundamental Rights Agency - Legal Analysis of Homophobia, p. 119
  15. ^ Dilema Armatei romane: cu sau fara homosexuali, Evenimentul Zilei, 26 November 2006
  16. ^ Accessing Health: the Context and the Challenges for LGBT People in Central and Eastern Europe (April 2006), ILGA-Europe, April 2006
  17. ^ European Fundamental Rights Agency - Report on Homophobia, 2008, p. 26
  18. ^ Valentine's deal 'left out gay people', Associated Press in Bucharest, The Guardian, 1 March 2005
  19. ^ Balkan Insight, Romania's New Constitution Bans Gay Marriage, 7 June 2013.
  20. ^ Romania Insider, Amnesty worried that Romanian Constitution changes on definition of family might cause discrimination, 7 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Sexual orientation should remain a protected ground in the Romanian Constitution!" (Press release). Bucharest, Romania: ACCEPT. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  22. ^ http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/romania-takes-a-negative-stand-to-same-sex-marriage
  23. ^ (Romanian) `Circotasii`, amendati pentru ca au ironizat un prezentator gay (Cârcotaşii, fined for making fun of a gay presenter), 7plus.ro, 28 March 2007
  24. ^ (Romanian) Alexandra Badicioiu, Cârcotaşii, amendati cu 10.000 de lei (Cârcotaşii, fined 10,000 lei), Cotidianul, 28 March 2007
  25. ^ (Romanian) Comunicat de presă: Prima TV amendă de 10.000 de lei; Acasa TV, TV Sport, Prima TV – somaţii publice, National Audiovisual Council, 27 March 2007
  26. ^ (Romanian) Cui ii este teama de homosexuali? (Who's afraid of homosexuals?), Cotidianul, 13 April 2007
  27. ^ Romania anti-gay assault on seven people
  28. ^ (Romanian) Fostii elevi de la Cosbuc consternati că liceul este anchetat pentru promovarea tolerantei
  29. ^ (Romanian) Comunicat de presă, 09.05.07, National Council for Combating Discrimination, 5 September 2007
  30. ^ Vis împlinit pentru homosexuali: fără discriminare la donarea de sânge (Fulfilled dream for homosexuals: no discrimination while donating blood), Adevărul, 16 January 2008
  31. ^ "PDL le-a pus gând rău lesbienelor la Cluj", Cotidianul, 8 February 2009
  32. ^ "Vlad Hogea: Partidul Conservator protesteaza fata de organizarea Gay Fest", at Partidul Conservator, 22 May 2008
  33. ^ (Romanian) O perspectivă asupra valorilor tinerilor români (A perspective on the values of young Romanian people), British Council in Romania
  34. ^ Eurobarometer: Discrimination in the European Union, Romania Country Report, January 2007
  35. ^ Intolerance, Discrimination and Authoritarianism in Public Opinion, Gallup report for the Institute for Public Policies, 2003
  36. ^ (Romanian) Religie și comportament religios Religion and Religious Behavior
  37. ^ (Romanian) Jumătate dintre români nu ar lua niciodată masa cu un homosexual, dar o treime cred că suntem un popor tolerant
  38. ^ Perceptions and Attitudes Regarding Discrimination in Romania
  39. ^ (Romanian) Partea a 2-a - Inactivism, lustratie, intoleranta si patriotismpage 9
  40. ^ Romania launches online gay TV, AFP, 27 August 2008

References[edit]