The 2006 GayFest took place between May 30 and 4 June 4, and was organized under the title of "Same rights, same responsibilities".[1] The central theme was that of "Same-sex marriage and civil unions in Romania"; neither is currently recognized in the country. During the GayFest week, ACCEPT called on the state to legalize same-sex marriage, or at least civil unions, creating unprecedented media coverage and debate about this issue.

The GayFest Parade, which received authorization from the City Hall on May 30,[2] took place on June 3, starting at 18:00 and attracting approximately 800 participants,[3] including LGBT rights activists from Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.[4] The parade included extravagant costumes, music and balloons, as well as the traditional 200-metre (626-foot) long rainbow flag that is featured at every GayFest parade. The participants also held up signs reading, "We love you!" and "Homophobia, the worst disease", while calling on the parliament to legalise same-sex marriage.[5]

Alongside members of the LGBT community, the march was also attended by several supporters of civil rights and human rights, many of them heterosexual. One woman who participated in the parade stated to BBC News that:

I am here with my husband, and in case we have a child who is gay, we want him to have rights and to be happy, to have the chance to be happy in this country. I support marriage between people of the same sex. Actually, it is for that reason that we are here. I want my child to have rights in the case that he is born homosexual. And this is not a tragedy, in any case.[6]

Like last year's event, however, the 2006 parade was not without opposition. On May 30, twenty-two conservative NGOs, including the far right-wing Noua Dreaptă, called on the Romanian Orthodox Church to oppose the pride parade. On June 2, the Orthodox Church denounced the City Hall for permitting the march to take place, stating that it is "an affront to the morality of public institutions, and a danger ... for the formation of young people".[7] Additionally, Noua Dreaptă filed a legal complaint in a Bucharest court to get the march banned, arguing that it was "obscene and anti-social".[8] The complaint was not, however, successful, with the court declaring that the GayFest Parade should take place.[5]

At 11:00 on June 3, a few hours before the GayFest Parade, Noua Dreaptă conducted a counter-demonstration, attended by approximately 150 people,[9] for "family values" and "moral traditions", parading with Christian crosses and Orthodox icons, as well as Romanian flags and posters denouning homosexuality.[10] Unlike in 2005, however, this march was not scheduled at the same time as the GayFest parade, and hence there were no violent clashes. Despite this, tens of protesters tried to break up the actual gay parade, clashing with the very strong police presence that shielded the LGBT activists. The protesters also held up signs reading "Romania does not need you" and threw eggs at the parade participants as well as the police. 51 anti-gay protesters were arrested and fined by police for provoking violence.[11]

Following the parade, the organizers, ACCEPT, stated that despite the attempts by anti-gay protesters to break up the parade, they were pleased that the authorities had the situation under control, and that the number of participants in the parade was greater than expected.[3] The two parties of the governing Justice and Truth Alliance — the Liberals and the Democrats — issued a statement after the parade condemning the violent anti-gay protests and calling for tolerance. They did not, however, comment on the issue of same-sex unions. The opposition Social Democratic Party also condemned the anti-gay violence.[12]

A few days after the pride parade, the Cotidianul newspaper interviewed Romania's main political parties about their stance on same-sex marriage in Romania, which was the theme of the 2006 GayFest. The two governing parties of the Justice and Truth Alliance affirmed their support for gay rights, but were elusive on the issue of same-sex marriage, while the Social Democrats stated that they would not initiate or support a legislative proposal on same-sex marriage, but that a broader public debate on this issue is necessary, "in order to see in what way the standards regarding fundamental liberties can be improved with regard to people with another sexual orientation". The right-wing Conservatives and Greater Romania Party were opposed to same-sex marriage.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ghita, Oana. "GayFest to begin at the end of May", Bucharest Daily News, May 26, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  2. "City Hall approves gay rally in Bucharest", Bucharest Daily News, May 30, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Parada gay, atacata cu petarde si oua (Gay parade, attacked with firecrackers and eggs). Libertatea (June 5, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-06-05.
  4. Second LGBT Pride March takes place in Bucharest. ILGA-Europe (June 3, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-06-04.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Template:Ro icon Parada comunităţii gay din România s-a încheiat, fiind marcată de incidente (The Romanian gay community's parade has finished marked by incidents), Mediafax, 3 June 2006
  6. "Bucureşti: paradă gay precedată de o contramanifestaţie (Bucharest: Gay parade preceded by counter-demonstration)", BBC Romanian, June 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  7. "Ring-wing Christian group calls on Romanian authorities to ban gay march", AP/EDGE News, June 1, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  8. Romania: Christian group protests against gay march, Pravda, 1 June 2006
  9. Template:Ro icon Roman, Toma; Karina Knapek. "Ziua panaramelor - Dreapta & Homo", Jurnalul Naţional, June 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-04-06. 
  10. Template:Ro icon Popescu, Adrian. "Tot sâmbătă, miting împotriva homosexualilor (Also on Saturday, meeting against homosexuals)", Libertatea, June 2, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  11. "Romanian anti-gay protesters clash with police", Reuters, June 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-04. 
  12. Lupea, Ioana. "A început dezbaterea gay (The gay debate has begun)", Evenimentul Zilei, June 5, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-06-05. 
  13. Template:Ro icon Familia Florin şi Raul nu primeşte credit cu buletinul, Cotidianul, 6 June 2006
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