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 some notable changes on behalf of the gay community since 2000, fully decriminalizing homosexuality, introducing and enforcing wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws, and equalizing the age of consent. 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.
Laws against gays[edit | edit source]
The Romanian Penal Code of 1864 did not criminalize homosexual acts. It was based on the French Napoleonic Code. This code remained in effect for almost three quarters of a century, and while it was intermittently enforced, it remained essentially in its original form. However, in 1936, 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.
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the last anti-gay law – Article 200 of the Penal Code, which criminalised public manifestations of homosexuality – was repealed only in 2001 due to pressure from the European Council and shortly before the arrival of openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest.
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 February 11, 2008, with 17 votes for, 16 abstentions and 27 votes against.
Protection based on sexual orientation in law[edit | edit source]
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. The law has been successfully tested by the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD), which has successfully fined and filed cases against individuals and firms due to discrimination based on sexual orientation. An example of this was when TAROM, the national air carrier, was fined due to its refusal allow gay partners to take advantage of its discounts for couples on Valentine's Day 2005. The situation was then rectified by TAROM.
On March 28, 2007, the National Audiovisual Council gave a 10,000 Romanian leu (€3000) fine to Prima TV's primetime satire-comedy show, Cronica Cârcotaşilor, for making homophobic comments. 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, explained 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." This represents the first time an audiovisual program 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. 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".
Distrigaz discrimination case[edit | edit source]
In 2007, a Bucharest court found that energy company Distrigaz had discriminated against a customer on the basis of his sexual orientation after an employee had made offensive comments. The man was awarded 1,000 euro in damages, and was the first time in Romania when damages were awarded by a court for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services.
Recognition of same-sex couples[edit | edit source]
There is currently no recognition of same-sex couples in Romania. Since 2007, however, when Romania joined the EU, the country is obliged to "facilitate" and recognise same-sex relationships registered in other EU member states (be they in the form of same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships).
[edit | edit source]
Since 1996, it is possible for someone who has gone through gender reassignment surgery to legally change their gender in their official documents to reflect their new biological sex. Additionally, it is legal for single women, including lesbians, to access means of assisted insemination, such as IVF.
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." 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.
Like the USA, 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. 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.
Gay life in the country[edit | edit source]
Romania has made significant progress in gay rights legislation since 2000. In 2006, it was named by Human Rights Watch as one of five countries that had made "exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity." 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 in 2005 and 2006 were met with significant opposition from far-right groups (particularly Noua Dreaptă and the New Generation Party). A parade permit for the 2005 event was initially denied by the Bucharest mayor's office, which relented following pressure from Minister of Justice Monica Macovei and the office of President Traian Băsescu. A small and still largely closeted gay scene exists in the Romania's largest cities, particularly in Bucharest, which has a few gay clubs. GayFest pride marches have been held in Bucharest annually since 2005, and despite taking place successfully, they have been met with significant opposition from far-right groups such as Noua Dreaptă. In addition to the annual GayFest in Bucharest, there are several other LGBT cultural events in the country, such as Cluj-Napoca's Gay Film Nights, an annual LGBT film festival, Annual Gay Prize, and Miss Travesty Romania, all organised by Be An Angel Romania at Cluj-Napoca.
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.
Open homosexuality is still viewed as a strange phenomenon outside of the major urban centers and rural gay and lesbian Romanians typically remain closeted. In Romania, LBGT communities only exist in a semi-public manner evident in Bucharest and in Cluj-Napoca, the two largest cities and, to a lesser degree, in other major cities such as Braşov, Ploieşti, Timişoara as well as Constanţa on the Black Sea coast. 
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 favour 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.
Other opinion polls have shown Romanians to be extremely 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.
Summary table[edit | edit source]
|Equal age of consent||Yes|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment||Yes|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||Yes|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||Yes|
|Recognition of same-sex couples||No|
|Adoption by same-sex couples||No|
|Gays allowed to serve in the military||Yes|
|Right to change legal gender||Yes|
|Access to IVF for lesbians||Yes|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood||Yes|
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- 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 0739105922.
- Propunere pentru interzicerea manifestărilor homosexualilor respinsă de Senat (Proposal for banning homosexual manifestations, rejected by the Senate), Adevărul, 11 February 2008
- Accessing Health: the Context and the Challenges for LGBT People in Central and Eastern Europe (April 2006), ILGA-Europe, April 2006
- Valentine's deal 'left out gay people', The Guardian, March 1, 2005
- Template:Ro icon `Circotasii`, amendati pentru ca au ironizat un prezentator gay (Cârcotaşii, fined for making fun of a gay presenter), 7plus.ro, 28 March 2007
- Alexandra Badicioiu, Cârcotaşii, amendati cu 10.000 de lei (Cârcotaşii, fined 10,000 lei), Cotidianul, 28 March 2007
- Template:Ro icon 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
- Template:Ro icon Cui ii este teama de homosexuali? (Who's afraid of homosexuals?), Cotidianul, 13 April 2007
- World Legal Wrap Up Survey July 2006, ILGA
- Legal Survey of LGBT Rights Worldwide, PDF file
- Dilema Armatei romane: cu sau fara homosexuali, Evenimentul Zilei, 26 November 2006
- Template:Ro icon Comunicat de presă, 09.05.07, National Council for Combating Discrimination, 5 September 2007
- Vis împlinit pentru homosexuali: fără discriminare la donarea de sânge (Fulfilled dream for homosexuals: no discrimination while donating blood), Adevărul, 16 January 2008
- On International Day Against Homophobia, Violations Mixed With Victories, Human Rights Watch
- Template:Ro icon O perspectivă asupra valorilor tinerilor români (A perspective on the values of young Romanian people), British Council in Romania
- Eurobarometer: Discrimination in the European Union, Romania Country Report, January 2007
- Intolerance, Discrimination and Authoritarianism in Public Opinion, Gallup report for the Institute for Public Policies, 2003
References[edit | edit source]
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