Gay Romania News & Reports 1999-2008

0 Background story: 1996–Romania criminalizes homosexual behavior 8/99

1 Romanian MPs vote to decriminalise homosexuality 6/00

2 Romanians Against Gays, Jews, Gypsies 11/00

3 It’s Still No Breeze for Gays, Even Diplomatic Ones 10/01

4 Romania lifts gay ban; church objects 12/01

5 Sexual Orientation Discrimination Eliminated from the Criminal Law 2/02

6 ‘Accept’ Country Report on the Status of LGBT People (2003)

7 Gay Bashing in Romania: A Personal Story (2003)

8 Romania Declares Victory in Fight Against AIDS 2/04

9 The Meaning of Sunday’s elections (not pro-gay but not anti-gay) 12/04

10 Gays Win Romania Airline Case 3/05

11 Romanian President Steps In to Save Bucharest Gay Pride Parade 5/05

12 Ambassador Assures MEP On Bucharest Gay Pride Parade 5/05

13 Update on gay scene in Romania 12/05

14 The gay lifestyle: Swinging between freedom and prejudice 3/06

15 Brawls, Arrests Mar Romanian Gay Pride 6/06

16 Romania rightist violence mars gay parade 6/06

17 Violence casts a shadow over gay Pride 6/07

18 Pro-Family Leaders Back Romania’s Efforts to Ban Gay ‘Marriage’ 4/08

19 Romania launches online gay TV 8/08

20 Third of Romanians think gays should be punished 9/08

3 August 1999

Background story: Gay Outlaws in Romania

by Catherine Lovatt
Romania’s attitude to homosexuality is decidedly puritan. But not all is negative nor everyone a bigot. Attitudes and lifestyles are changing, and Romania is forcing her way toward tolerance. Considerable pressure from international organisations such as the European Council on Human Rights (ECHR) and Amnesty International have encouraged Romania to take a more liberal approach to minority groups. Typically, the process has been long and arduous.
As a member of the Council of Europe and a prospective member of the European Union, Romania is expected to adhere to the ECHR’s commitment to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In 1994, it was widely believed that the country was taking the first step toward establishing a more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, when the Constitutional Court suspended the Communist-era legislation prohibiting homosexual acts and called for a more liberal legislation to bring Romanian law in line with ECHR provisions. However, in 1996, the Romanian Parliament adopted a new law which again made it a criminal offence to engage in homosexual acts – even in private – and outlawed membership of gay and lesbian movements.

The stringent law sparked a wave of protests throughout Europe and America. In Holland the Romanian President, Emil Constantinescu, was jeered by gay and lesbian protestors outside the University of Amsterdam, where he had just delivered a lecture. In London protestors converged on the Albert Hall during a performance of ‘Aida’ by the government-sponsored Romanian National Opera. Milan also witnessed protests. Two American activists made a high-profile visit to Romania to encourage the legalisation of gay sex. The international response to the Romanian legislation did not go unnoticed. Constantinescu declared, in front of the protesting Dutch, that Penal Code Article 200 would be modified, and only homosexual acts associated with violence and robbery would be punished. He also expressed his hope that the modification would be accepted by Parliament in a relatively short period of time.

The accession of Radu Vasile to the position of prime minister furthered the cause of the human rights in Romania. Through the introduction of a new reform programme, Vasile hoped to improve the rights of ethnic, religious and other minorities, to bring Romanian law in line with EU standards and, especially, to dispel criticism surrounding cases of police violence and discrimination against the large Roma population and homosexuals.

One such case of police brutality and denial of human rights concerned Marian Cetiner. Cetiner was the first person imprisoned for her sexual orientation under the 1996 legislation. Amnesty International picked up the human rights case and adopted Cetiner as a prisoner of conscience. The involvement of Amnesty resulted in Cetiner’s release after two years of police harassment and abuse in jail. Willingness within the higher echelons of power to adopt more tolerant legislation now seems more evident, and if they can provide legal boundaries that cater for all minority groups, a context can be established within which society can develop a more tolerant attitude. If homosexuality is at least tolerable to the elected representatives of a nation, then the process of securing human rights for all is partially achieved.

Gaining the support of Parliament is still proving difficult, but some progress has been made. Unfortunately, progress appears to have more to do with appeasing the EU and ECHR than with and heartfelt desire to create a liberal and tolerant Romanian society.

Varying beliefs, varying backgrounds and varying lifestyles all determine the public perception of what is and what is not socially acceptable. To most liberal Westerners, the Romanian violation of human rights with regard to homosexuality is unacceptable. But one should never forget that Romania is going through a period of radical change. The transition from Communism is more than just a gargantuan economic project; it is a restructuring of the population’s entire belief system. Prejudices certainly do remain, but, gradually, attitudes are changing.

June 28, 2000 – Reuters

Romanian MPs vote to decriminalise homosexuality

by Karin Popescu
Bucharest (Reuters) – Romanian deputies voted on Wednesday to decriminalise homosexuality but decided to maintain jail terms for overt sexual activity. The move to decriminalise homosexuality, which has been illegal in Romania since 1968, was part of attempts to boost the eastern European country’s record on human rights to improve its prospects of joining the European Union. Gay activists criticised the vote, saying it still discriminated against them. "Punishing by law a group of people is discriminatory. MPs did nothing but played with words,” Adrian Coman, executive manager of Accept, Romania’s only association dealing with gay rights, told Reuters.

The Romanian parliament’s lower Chamber of Deputies voted to maintain a stipulation in the criminal code setting jail terms of up to five years for "abnormal sexual practices, including oral and anal sex, if performed in public.” The law does not specify whether it concerns heterosexuals or homosexuals but gay activists argue that the reference to oral and anal sex targets them. To become effective, the vote must be also endorsed by parliament’s upper house, the Senate. The ruling centrist coalition is seeking to amend the country’s criminal code in line with suggestions on improving human rights put forward by the Council of Europe.

"MPs didn’t seem to understand what it is all about. They eliminated one article but kept another one maintaining different treatments for heterosexuals and homosexuals. They persist in discriminations, despite the Council of Europe’s recommendations,” Coman said. In 1997, the Council stopped monitoring Romania after the former communist country made some progress on democratic reform. It gave the country a year to amend legislation. Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica warned on Tuesday that delaying legal reforms could put Romania under the Council of Europe scrutiny again and jeopardise its EU accession talks started earlier this year.

"It is sad that Romania remains on a list with Armenia, Chechnya and the (Bosnian Serb) Republika Serbska where homosexuals are still criminalised and discriminated against,” Coman said. He said that Romania lagged behind other former communist states which had already decriminalised homosexuality. Gay activists say that homosexuals are as badly treated in Romania since before the fall of communism in 1989. "The only improvement is that now we have hope that sometime we might be treated as equals to any other human being,” he said.

Coman, while unable to give any data or numbers on gays and lesbians in Romania, said human rights watchdogs estimated that thousands of homosexuals had been put in jail, thrown out of their jobs and houses, committed suicide or fled the country since 1989.

November 17, 2000 – Agence France Press

Romanians Against Gays, Jews, Gypsies

Bucharest – Nine out of 10 Romanians do not want to live next door to gays, according to a poll published Friday which said they also have little time for Jews, gypsies and AIDS victims. Three out of four fear people with the HIV virus and Roma [gypsies], while a third of Romanians do not want Jews or ethnic Hungarians as neighbors, according to the survey by the CURS polling institute.

Drunks and convicted criminals would also get the cold shoulder if they lived next door to 90 percent of Romanians. A far-right ultra-nationalist, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, is currently second in the race for the Romanian presidency next week, according to opinion polls.

October 17, 2001 – New York Times

It’s Still No Breeze for Gays, Even Diplomatic Ones

by Carlotta Gall
Bucharest, Romania, Oct. 16- "It’s a real Soviet style disco! " Adrian Coman shouted over the thumping music, waving apologetically at the pool tables at the back and the cheap plastic plants. But, the decor aside, the Casablanca disco has been at the forefront of smashing old Communist taboos. The disco was Romania’s first gay nightclub, and opened even before the Romanian government repealed a law in June that had made it a criminal offense for gays to associate in this country.

Since then, this city’s growing gay community has gathered at the club on Friday and Saturday nights to party with increasing confidence and abandon. "It has made a big difference to us all, because no matter what anyone does to you, you know you have the law behind you," said Daniel Vaduva, 26, as he watched a group of enthusiastic dancers. Changing the law and public attitudes in Romania has been a long, hard struggle. Even now, Parliament is delaying ratification of the government’s decision. The repeal of the law still stands, but Parliament’s attitude reflects a general intolerance in the society. ~

The legislators have also tried to modify another government decree outlawing discrimination, by removing any reference to sexual orientation. Popular attitudes have been slow to change, too, even 11 years after the downfall of the Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. The intolerance that stubbornly lingers here was experienced firsthand by the new American ambassador Michael Guest, when his appointment generated a flurry of articles in the local press exclaiming at the fact that he was gay. Still, some progress, however belated, has been made. In the early 1990’s, Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana noted, no politician would have dared touch the law banning homosexuality, Article 200.

"It continues to be politicaily sensitive," he said in an interview. "It is a matter of changing our old-fashioned mentality. The general feeling is reserved towards homosexuality, more because of a macho, Latin kind of thing, but also because of the Orthodox Church, which is very traditional." Mr. Coman, who was at the Casablanca club the other night, is also the director of Accept, a gay and lesbian rights groups that has met some success as it lobbied strenuously for change.

The Romanian government, he says, is aware of the need to bring its legislation and justice system in line with Western Europe’s standards, if it is to achieve its desire to join the European Union and NATO. But old laws are clearly not the only obstacle, as Mr. Guest, the American ambassador discovered upon his arrival last month. One right-wing figure, lon Coja, a professor of the Romanian language at Bucharest University, sent an open letter to President Bush and Congress expressing his disgust at the appointment.

The foreign ministry was quick to denounce such intolerance as uncharacteristic. Ultimately, local journalists proved shy about the issue, not daring to broach it at the ambassador’s first news conference last month until he raised the issue himself. The Orthodox Church, too, made a subtle but significant shift in its stance recently, when Patriarch Teoctist said that the church did not condemn individuals, but homosexual practices.

"I understand that people have focused on my personal situation," the American ambassador said in an interview. "I would have liked the initial impression to have been focused on that I am a NATO expert, an O.S.C.E expert and have worked in other Central European countries and can help build the relationship."

For Romania’s small gay population, the ambassador’s experience was familiar. They say they still deal daily with prejudice, some persecution, some aggression at the hands of both fellow citizens and the police. Gays have been the targets of threats by right-wing groups. Only a small proportion of people who are gay dare to tell family, friends and colleagues, Mr. Coman says. Indeed, it was only three years ago that Marian Cetiner, the last person imprisoned under Article 200, was released after Amnesty International campaigned on her behalf.

The night after the government repealed the law banning homosexuality, police officers raided the Casablanca club anyway, a step that members of Accept took as another signal of police intolerance. Mr. Vaduva, who was watching dancers at the club the other night, said his family, which lives in a small town in northern Romania, bears the brunt of his being gay. After Mr. Vaduva, a young professional here in Bucharest, came out on a television program, a neighbor attacked his younger brother in his . hometown. "My brother is 18 years old and straight," he said "but she attacked him with a stick, shouting that he came from a family of faggots.

Most Romanians, he said, are more tolerant. Shortly after his television appearance, Mr. Vaduva, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Peasant National Party, went to the party offices in his hometown to leave the party. But the head of the local branch, a much older man. refused to accept his resignation, telling him that he was much too popular. Despite their small successes, Romania’s gays are leaving the country in search of a better, safer life elsewhere. Ms. Cetiner has gone to live abroad, and Mr. Coman, who has so successfully lobbied for changes id the law, is not going to stay to benefit. Winner of a green card lottery, he is heading for New York.

December 24, 2001 – Planet Out

Romania lifts gay ban; church objects

by U.K.
Aging communist-era laws criminalizing gays and lesbians were removed Friday in Romania. The scrapping of the law, which was introduced during the reign of Nicolae Ceasescu, was prompted by the European Union’s insistence that until the law was removed Romania could not join the EU.
The law, Article 200 of the Penal Code, had been used to harass and imprison thousands of Romanian homosexuals, and its demise sparked celebrations amongst the East European nation’s gay community. "This is an important step forward; you could say that finally the state is out of your bed," said Adrian Coman, director of Romania’s leading gay rights group ACCEPT.

However, despite the law’s removal, Coman says the EU forced the change on Romania rather than being the result of Romania becoming more progressive. "The fact that law was repealed does not necessarily show that people in this country became more tolerant towards gays and lesbians in Romania," noted Coman. Romania’s powerful Orthodox Church, however, was furious at the decision. "We need healthy young people in mind and body, like any civilized country, and we must try to protect them from contamination by such serious sinners," said Holy Synod bishop Vincentiu Ploisteanu. "We want to join the European Union, not Sodom and Gomorrah."

February 1, 2002 –

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Eliminated from the Romanian Criminal Law

ACCEPT welcomes the political will of the Romanian Parliament and President expressed through concluding the legislative process for (1) Government Emergency Ordinance no. 89/2001 that repealed Article 200 from the Penal Code and (2) Government Ordinance 137/2000 on preventing and punishing all forms of discrimination – including discrimination based on sexual orientation.

ACCEPT believes that through these laws Romania has lined up its legislation to the European Union’s requirements on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, in the criminal law. Thus, a sensitive issue, that appeared on all international agendas regarding homosexuality, was eliminated. We find that, in law, Romania chose to respect human dignity, putting an end to the culture of fear and humiliation that its homo/bi-sexual citizens have had to grow up with. ACCEPT will carefully monitor the effects of this political will in the judicial practice and will provide free-of-charge legal assistance to the eventual victims of discrimination, since changing the text of laws will not automatically eliminate the situations of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As a human rights organization whose efforts to improve the legislation have been successful, ACCEPT would like to thank all those who have supported – visibly or not – our actions in the past six years, in particular the Romanian Ministries of Justice and of European Integration, members of the European Parliament, among which Baroness Emma Nicholson, Lousewies van der Laan, Astrid Thors, Michael Cashman, Joke Swiebel, Jan Marinus Wiersma, Enrique Barón Crespo, Patsy Sörensen, the European Commission and the EC Delegation in Bucharest, western embassies in Bucharest, in particular those of the Netherlands and Sweden, and for the financial support – for the lobbying projects – from the Dutch Government and the Open Society Institute (OSI).

We also thank the many non-governmental organizations that have joined in our campaigns, especially the Romanian Helsinki Committee, ILGA-Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, IGLHRC and COC Netherlands.

Adrian Coman
Executive Director


ROMANIA – Country Report on the Status of LGBT People

By Florin Buhuceanu
Executive Director
ACCEPT Association

Description of the Legal Situation

I. Criminal Law
In order that Romania comply with the Copenhagen political criteria for accession to the European Union, including “observance and protection of minority rights”, on January 14, 2002 the President of Romania promulgated a Law to approve Government Emergency Ordinance no. 89/2001, by which article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code was repealed. Formerly, Article 200 “discriminated by law” against the Romanian citizens belonging to sexual minorities: lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT). While this discriminatory legal provision was still in force, the Government of Romania adopted, on 31 August 2002, Ordinance no. 137/2000, which referred to the prevention and punishing of all forms of discrimination based on race, nationality, ethnic group, language, religion, social category, beliefs, sex or sexual orientation, belonging to a disfavoured category, or any other discrimination criterion.

II. Legal Protection against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
While from a judicial point of view the legal situation of the LGBT in Romania is satisfactory due to the repeal of Article 200 PC, discrimination based on sexual orientation is a fact one encounters at work, in public services, the practices of the Romanian Police, the media , or even in family relationships. Although the Steering Board of the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD) was appointed in July 2002 , there are still no procedures or mechanisms to facilitate and support the victims’ access to compensation for the damages resulting from the discriminatory acts they were subjected to. Even though Romania is currently the only South-Eastern European country that has enforced such an anti-discrimination law , the functionality of this law depends on the long-delayed setting of clear procedures. Here are a few shortcomings of this law:
1. discrimination is sanctioned exclusively by administrative fines;
2. the reversal of the burden of proof (implying that the burden of proof is the discriminatory agent’s responsibility, not the victim’s) was not approved, as requested in the EU Directive 43/2000;
3. at least minimal standards to combat discrimination are not specified, even if NCCD is meant not only to sanction, but also to prevent discrimination;
4. indirect discrimination is not defined, therefore the procedure regarding the prevention of this type of discrimination is, consequently, not specified;
5. ensuring independent assistance to the victims of discrimination is not guaranteed to a satisfactory extent, i.e., in accordance with the jurisprudence of the EU member states and the European Court of Human Rights.

III. Judicial Practice
Up to the repeal of article 200 of the PC, the legislative history included control measures affecting the LGBT’s life, and the suspension of their rights to free expression and association. This was done in order to prevent the emergence of a minority gay identity. The abusive treatment to which LGBT persons are subjected in the Romanian society even after 2002 clearly shows that adopting a law, be it liberal, does not automatically change the social status of this minority and the way it is publicly received. The judicial cases registered by ACCEPT and forwarded to the Court of Justice in 2002 reveal the discriminatory mentalities and practices of the Romanian Police – which highlights precisely the gap between the text of the law and its application. In Bucharest, for instance, the Police attempts to intimidate, by abusive detention and administrative fines, the persons who transit gay cruising areas. These people’s “private life” is threatened, when expressed “in public” in ways that have no sexual connotation . Fortunately, thanks to the anti-discrimination law ACCEPT, as a human rights organisation, was able to defend in Court cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation; ACCEPT’s capacity to institute processes in law was thus acknowledged.

IV. Family and Partnership Legislation
There are currently neither such legal provisions, nor the political will to include the partnership of same-gender couples in the draft bill; such couples are not regarded as families. Before 2002, plans to draft same-gender partnership provisions were used as a counter-argument to the repeal of anti-gay legislation: there was a notion that, article 200 once repealed, LGBT people will “ask for more and more rights”, including the right to form legal partnerships. Pensions and the right to inheritance do not apply to same-gender partners.

V. Age of consent
The age of sexual consent is 15, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender. Description of the Social and Political Situation

VI. The Social Situation and Ethical Aspects
As most Romanians are negative about homosexuality and homosexuals, most LGBT people adopt dissimulation strategies to hide their sexual identity, in order to obtain social acceptance. Such adaptation to the climate of generalised homophobia fuels and maintains a decades long past of exclusion, invisibility of LGBT people, and discrimination against them. The Opinion Poll initiated and published by the Open Society Foundation – Romania in November 2000 strongly indicates the population’s high degree of intolerance vis-à-vis the LGBT: 86% of the respondents do not wish to have homosexuals as their neighbours. A similar poll conducted in July 2002 shows that 59% of the respondents do not accept homosexuals as ordinary people. According to this majority, homosexuality has to do with “psychological disease”, “emotional disorder”, “vice”, “sin against nature”, or a kind of anti-Romanian identity imported from the West. LGBT people in Romania find themselves discriminated against by both public officials and non-public agents or individuals. When people in the LGBT’s own living environment (family, friends) and in their social life (colleagues, teachers, employers, physicians, social workers, public officials, policemen) discover their sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bisexual) or gender identity (transgender), they most often react according to traditional stereotypes and the corresponding “unwritten laws”, trying to change the LGBT, to punish them for, or to “cure” them of, their identity. Consequently, LGBT people are forced into living a double life: as lesbians/gays/bisexuals/transgender in their private lives, and as apparent heterosexuals in their social and public life. Nourished by the tradition of discrimination against the LGBT community and relying on a mechanism of social pressures, such reactions perpetuate the social exclusion of LGBT people, while reinforcing upon them a negative self-perception that can have, as indeed it has had, very damaging effects.

The following are the most frequent consequences :
∑ the mental and emotional status, self-acceptance and personal development of the LGBT may become (at least) unbalanced, and it may result in the internalisation of negative feelings that, in the end, may lead to self-hatred, depression, exclusion from society’s public life and, sometimes, even suicide;
∑ when accessing public services, LGBT people face either homophobia, or specialists who do not have the (i) knowledge, (ii) skills and (iii) experience to properly address the specific needs of the LGBT community – the services provided are usually of low quality. LGBT people also fear being treated as ill persons and stigmatised; they worry about the confidentiality of the professional act and the lack of codes of conduct to guarantee non-discrimination;
∑ giving up school or job because of discrimination based on sexual orientation or (trans)gender identity;
∑ long term unemployment because of discrimination based on sexual orientation or (trans)gender identity.

VII. The Media’s Approach
Although the media in Romania has improved remarkably, from the perspective of journalism ethics , in the way they treat homosexuality, they often approach the topic in a negative way. Reducing homosexuality to a mere sexual behaviour and associating this behaviour with paedophilia and violence between partners are two continuing trends .
On the other hand, a positive fact should be signalled: more LGBT persons appear more often in the media, which encourages the articulation of personal points of view upon the discussed topics and an increased visibility of the LGBT. Also, between 2001 and 2003 more LGBT electronic publications have appeared, which will provide an increased cohesion of this community in the “virtual world”, considering the benefits of confidentiality, fast communication and online services. According to the statistics produced by ACCEPT volunteers between December 2002 and February 2003, LGBT people increasingly use electronic communication means to obtain information, socialise and search for partners. The Internet provides still unexplored possibilities to conduct virtual outreach and promote the safe sex concept and methods, mainly for MSM (men having sex with men). The Internet can also be used as an opportunity to initiate, strengthen and develop the LGBT support groups in Romania that, in their turn, can provide services and information to their local communities.

VIII. The Romanian Orthodox Church
In Romania, 90% of the population declare themselves to be religious people, 86% of them being Orthodox. This overwhelming statistic majority reflects the status and important role that the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) has had in Romania’s religious, political and social life, as well as in the country’s history. After 1994-1995, the ROC used “pressure and threats about matters of the conscience,” in Orthodox Metropolitan Nicolae Corneanu’s words, to notoriously campaign against the repeal of anti-gay laws, exercising an important influence and vociferous presence upon the members of the Parliament and the Government. Describing LGBT people as being “the ultimate enemy” or “Satan’s army”, the ROC’s public position has become foundational and inspirational for all the extremist groups and parties (like the Greater Romania Party, The Movement for Romania, The New Right Movement). The practices and perception of the ROC depict the homosexual identity not so much as a sexual one, but as an identity condemned to stigma. The ROC has accused “gay activists” of making deals with the Romanian legislators “scared by the huge European pressures,” in an attempt to secretly attain benefits that they could not obtain democratically (i.e., by a national referendum). The ROC’s anti-gay agenda was not simply rhetorical: grassroots campaigns (speeches inside Orthodox churches, public demonstrations, petitions, political pressures) directly incited to the legal discrimination and social exclusion of LGBT people. It is not exaggerated to state that the battle between the ROC and the LGBT movement was one of the most relevant civic campaigns for an open society, till the repeal of article 200 PC.

IX. Extremist Groups and Parties
Homosexuality is a highly emotional and political issue. Because there is an amazing amount of confusion and misunderstanding about it, extremist groups (like the New Right Movement), political parties (the Greater Romania Party, the second largest parliamentary group) or influential politicians can manipulate information and emotions to gain support for their agenda . The gay community makes a vulnerable target because of its lack of visibility. The months that have passed since the official decriminalisation of homosexuality in Romania cannot change this reality. These extremist forces have created a strong basis for public support by using misinformation and plain lies about the supposed sickness, moral danger and militancy of lesbian and gay activists, to create fear and moral hysteria. They use the slogan “gay rights are special rights” as a powerful tool in their battle against homosexuality, opening up the possibility for eliminating civil rights protection in the case of the LGBT.

X. Violence against the LGBT
The cases that ACCEPT recorded in 2002 shed some light on the discriminatory mentalities and practices that affect the Romanian LGBT in relation with the Romanian Police, with providers of public services, with their families and/or employers, etc., and demonstrate that there is a gap between the text of the law and its application. Three types of discrimination cases are illustrative of the intimidating behaviour that the Police and other social agents maintain vis-à-vis LGBT people, who continue to be treated like ”deviants” impersonating social danger and must be combated and fined. These cases, which were legally assisted by ACCEPT, prove that in Romania in 2002 the life of LGBT people is endangered by threats, ridicule, bullying, abusive detention and fines, when expressed “in public” in ways that have no sexual connotation.

Case Type 1
B.R., D.Z. and F.D. were detained by the Police and fined because they had presumably had sexual intercourse in exchange for material benefits in the Opera Park in Bucharest, a gay cruising area. ACCEPT assisted them in soliciting the invalidation of the Police report that ascertained the so-called offence, and exemption from paying the fine. The Court invalidated the charge of the Romanian Police and the fines that this institution had applied, and it found D.Z. and F.D. “not guilty” of transiting the Opera Park. No sentence has as yet been issued in B.R.’s case. In order to punish the policemen’s abusive behaviour, an appeal to a military court is needed, which makes the act of justice much more difficult. In the now famous case of Adrian Georgescu, when the police officer flagrantly violated the victim’s right to private life and even broke the internal regulations of the Police, ACCEPT asked a military court to sanction the officer’s practices. The court decided not to approve a penal charging of the officer, as did the General Prosecutor of Romania. Despite their decision, in February 2003 ACCEPT and the Romanian Helsinki Committee sent Georgescu’s case before the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg . Georgescu’s case was mentioned in the Amnesty International 2001 Report.

Case Type 2
In February 2002 two young lesbians in Ploiesti, M.M. and C.M. were physically and verbally abused in the street by C.M.’s mother, because of their decision to live together as a couple, despite pressure from families and their social environment. The pressure ceased only when the two lesbians, after lodging complaints with the Police in vain, finally decided to leave the country. In December 2002 B.B., a 25 year old student, had to leave the house in which he lived with his parents because his family had repeatedly subjected him to threats and physical violence in order to “get him cured” of his sexual orientation.

Case Type 3
At the end of February 2002, two lesbians living in Sibiu, A.D. and R.H., members of the LGBT local support group, were denied access to a bar because they were supposedly going to “corrupt” the other customers. In November 2002 another lesbian couple, C.L. and D.M., were dismissed by their employer and verbally harassed by some of their co-workers after they revealed their sexual orientation. Benefiting from ACCEPT’s assistance, they are preparing a complaint to the NCCD at the beginning of 2003.

The treatment of LGBT people in the Romanian penitentiary system is also degrading and extremely humiliating. As the case of Ovidiu Chetea shows, which ACCEPT has recently recorded, LGBT people cannot defend themselves and are not supported by guards: “I just had to keep silent and do what I was asked to do. If I refused to have sex, they would beat me; they even tied me up, sometimes they gagged me so I keep silent and don’t shout, so the guards can’t hear – although the guards were their accomplices in all this; I was raped, and also sado-masochistic things were done to me…. A homosexual simply has no saying there, he doesn’t have a right to comment. No right whatsoever. Even if he’s a detainee just like the others, he has no rights. He has only the right to keep silent.”

XI. Education
The public education system in Romania does not include any program to promote the safety, understanding and inclusion of all the students, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. No study has yet been conducted regarding the degree of homophobia in public schools, educational practices and curricula. Positively, however, in February 2003 a textbook and a CD-Rom for the use of teachers in Romanian public schools was released, which provides non-partisan and adequate information about homosexuality.

XII. The Military Service
The Romanian legislation regulating the military service does not prohibit the access of LGBT people during the recruitment process or employment. Although there is no study clarifying how LGBT people are treated in the army, situations are known in which people are discriminated at their work place or during their military term of service, because of their sexual orientation. ACCEPT used the provisions in the Public Information Law to address a letter to the Ministry of National Defense, in order to clarify the treatment of LGBT persons in the army, but no response has been received at this date.

XIII. Health
Although homosexuality is no longer perceived officially as a disease that needs treatment in psychiatry hospitals, attitudes against homosexuality influence the behaviour of the medical personnel in the health care system and the related sectors . General attitudes towards sexuality are a controversial issue in Romania today. According to a study conducted by ACCEPT in 2002 , national opinion polls still report a significant lack of awareness of the vulnerability of LGBT people, and a lack of general knowledge of sexuality related matters. The official statistics issued by the Romanian Ministry of Health show that the incidence of HIV/AIDS among men having sex with men (MSM) is low (5% of the AIDS cases have acknowledged transmission by homosexual relations). But because of discrimination against the LGBT, MSM avoid disclosing their sexual orientation in public or before a physician. LGBT people in Romania need sources of information, role models, and access to services that respond to their needs and give them a sense of identity and self-esteem. They need special medical counselling and services, special health promotion and HIV/STI prevention projects.

Positive health public policies and procedures regarding LGBT people’s physical, emotional and sexual health are needed to reduce stigmatisation. Public education and mobilisation campaigns are also necessary to change public opinion and inform the LGBT community of emerging health issues. Partnerships between non-governmental organisations and governmental agencies need to be recognised and implemented by the National Commission for the Supervision, Control and Prevention of HIV/AIDS. As Mr. Michael Cashman, MEP put it, the National Commission should involve “civil society as an equal-footing partner in developing and implementing health public policies of national interest”.

XIV. The Relation with the EU, Council of Europe and International Human Rights Organisations
After February 2002, ACCEPT reshaped its lobbying strategy to start a long-term process of influencing the public policies in Romania, in order to eliminate the discriminatory barriers that prevent LGBT people from gaining equal access to services. This is a strategic direction that ACCEPT will implement in the next 2 years, by lobbying legislative bodies and by public education/awareness campaigns. ACCEPT’s latest lobby activities have focused on the foundation and workings of the National Council for Combating Discrimination. This institution is meant to implement the provisions of the anti-discrimination Government Ordinance no. 137/2000. Even though the establishment of the Council was announced in November 2001, it was only in mid-April 2002 that the first preparations regarding the structure and responsibilities of the Council were made public by the government. This was done without prior consultation with the civil society. To ensure transparency in the nomination of the Council’s president and board, ACCEPT and The Open Society Foundation – Romania (OSF) initiated a meeting of Romanian NGOs active in promoting human and minority rights. A Resolution was issued and released to the media on the 25th of April, which 20 NGOs (including the European Roma Rights Centre) signed. Following further lack of openness in the Council’s establishment, the signatory NGOs released yet another Resolution on August 28 , demanding that the Council set its responsibilities in accordance with the European legal recommendations currently in force, in order to determine the effective use of the anti-discrimination law and the Council.

Continuing in the field of legislative initiative, in July two representatives of ACCEPT participated in the works of the Constitutional Forum initiated by the leading human rights NGOs in Romania. The Forum aims to produce concrete propositions regarding changes in the Romanian Constitution, on behalf of the Romanian civil society. ACCEPT proposed that article 4 of the Constitution be re-phrased so that it specifically mentions equal rights for all citizens of Romania, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

On April 18, ACCEPT signed the NGOs’ resolution on human rights education for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which lobbies for concrete mechanisms to strengthen the human rights education commitment of the UN.

On May 23, ACCEPT participated in a meeting with the initiative group coordinated by Pro Democracy Association and the East-West Parliamentary Practice Project, created in order to ensure that the draft bill on lobby activities reflects the possibility of the civil society to legally protect and promote its interests and initiatives.

In June 2002, ACCEPT supported the initiative of several national and international human rights NGOs to contest Government Ordinance no. 25/2002, which restricts the journalists’ freedom of expression. This initiative of the civil society was largely debated in the media and was perceived as a proof of the civil society’s solidarity with the media.

In July, two representatives of ACCEPT met in Brussels with several members of the Romania Unit of the European Commission Enlargement Direction. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the Commission about the latest developments regarding the status of LGBT people in Romania. ACCEPT’s representatives also organised a meeting, on the same topic, with Social-Democrat MEP Joke Swiebel, Chair of the Inter-group for Lesbian and Gay Rights of the European Parliament. Regular reports about discrimination based on sexual orientation in Romania have been distributed to the Enlargement and International Cooperation Unit (European Commission), Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights/ Council of Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Canadian Board of Immigration and Refugees, etc.Good practices and developments

One of the most important long-term objectives of ACCEPT is to improve the situation of the LGBT community in Romania by assisting the LGBT local support groups in various geographical areas in setting up their communities and participating in the consolidation of a regional LGBT emancipation movement .

Since 2001, using regular communication, site trips and internships at ACCEPT’s office, ACCEPT has succeeded in establishing closer collaboration with the LGBT local support groups, including financial support for the groups’ registration as NGOs. ACCEPT’s collaboration with local communities currently includes:

ATTITUDE! – an LGBT organisation based in Cluj Napoca (Central Romania), EQUAL – a minority rights organisation based in the Jiu Valley, and 3 other LGBT local support groups (Be An Angel – Cluj Napoca, PROTECT GLBT – Sibiu, and Tibiscum – Timisoara). Through the internships organised by ACCEPT for these groups/associations, ACCEPT succeeded in: transferring organisational management knowledge at a “beyond-the-basics” level; providing the groups/associations with a comprehensive and useful package of information; assisting the groups/associations to interact constructively in the drafting of their missions, goals and objectives as future organisations. ACCEPT also supported ATTITUDE! in preparing their General Assembly at the end of 2002.

Other good practices:
∑ Monthly Newsletter: writing and publishing a monthly newsletter that presents ACCEPT’s activities and facilitating a dialogue within the LGBT community in Romania.
∑ ACCEPT web-site ( providing up-to-date information (in Romanian and English) about the latest developments in anti-discrimination legislation, policies and advocacy.
∑ ACCEPT weekly electronic communiqués (info-sheets): advertising ACCEPT’s services and activities.
Other LGBT electronic channels:,,,,,,,, etc.
∑ Information and Documentation Center: the only library in Romania specialised in gender and sexual orientation issues.
∑ Co-operation and partnership with other organisations: participation in national and international meetings and conferences with the purpose of promoting the organisation’s activities and informing the public and mass media about LGBT issues in Romania.
∑ Co-operation with the main European lobbying institution in favor of sexual minorities, ILGA-Europe
∑ Legal Counseling for individuals or groups discriminated against because of their sexual orientation (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals), gender (transgender people) or HIV+ status (irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation).
∑ Psychological counselling for LGBT people and their social group
∑ Medical counselling in order to prevent HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) among the LGBT.
∑ Activity circles: circles, meetings, debates on issues of interest to the LGBT community and activities aimed at consolidating the LGBT people’s self-confidence and community awareness.∑ Organisational development: continuing training in organisational management and promoting a correct image of the LGBT community to the general public.
∑ Community development: assisting and counselling other LGBT groups on establishing and managing associations, especially in cities other than Bucharest.

Partnerships: ACCEPT values collaboration with other organisations from Romania and abroad, and has succeeded in creating various partnership projects that expand the target group of ACCEPT, bringing the expertise of other organisations in ACCEPT’s activities and increasing the credibility of LGBT community in the Romanian civil society.

In Romania, ACCEPT works with the Open Society Foundation – Romania, Romanian Helsinki Committee (the main human rights NGO) and Romani CRISS (a Roma rights NGO) to plan and implement the initiatives towards the observance of human rights for LGBT people, and to support various other actions related to antidiscrimination, democracy and human rights.
In the field of capacity building, ACCEPT has a long-term collaboration with FDSC (Civil Society Development Foundation).

From abroad, ACCEPT has long-term partnerships with: COC Nederland (The Netherlands), in LGBT community building); ILGA-Europe (The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association), in lobbying with the European Institutions). ACCEPT has also worked with Amnesty International and IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) in campaigns aimed at repealing the anti-gay law in Romania. In the Eastern European region, ACCEPT developed partnership projects with BGO Gemini (Bulgaria) and the Moldovan GenderDoc-M, aimed at cross-cultural cooperation with assistance from ACCEPT in the capacity building of the two organisations.

The gay scene in Bucharest
1. Queens’s club: str. Culmea Veche 2, Bucuresti
Web site:
2. Gay-friendly bar: Cafeneaua Actorilor, Bd. Balcescu 2

1. Romania must ratify as soon as possible the Additional Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibiting discrimination on any grounds.
2. The Romanian Government must adopt legal measures aimed at preventing and combating indirect discrimination, and also the procedure of reversing the burden of proof.
3. The Romanian Government and the National Council for Combating Discrimination must initiate public policies for the social inclusion and participation of LGBT persons in society, and to combat their exclusion.
4. Educational programmes and campaigns should be initiated and developed by the National Council for Combating Discrimination in partnership with LGBT organisations for magistrates, police, medical and educational authorities, to reduce prejudice and stereotypes about LGBT people.
5. A media campaign aimed at increasing cultural and social diversity of Romanian society (including sexual orientation issues) needs to be designed and implemented in close partnership with the National Council for Combating Discrimination and LGBT organisations.

If You Look Different

Gay Bashing in Romania: A Personal Story

by Ms. Desislava Petrova aka ‘Soldier’, President, Bulgarian Gay Organization "GEMINI"
I participated in a seminar organized by Association for European Integration QUIZ in Craiova, Romania “Theatre and tradition at north and south of the Danube” which took place from 1 till 14th of May, 2003. The project involved 10 Bulgarian and 10 Romanian students at Theatre and amateurs in a common project to communicate, integrate, make connections; the main theme was theatre improvisation and was financed by European Union and MTS through DTSJ Dolj. After spending a great time together during all these 14 days and did our work, I came back with great impressions from the country, with more knowledge about the Romanian traditions, the theatre and people.

Unfortunately nothing passed without incidents and I will always remember the last evening that I spend in Craiova. We went all for the last dinner together in a nice traditional Romanian restaurant situated in Craiova. I was sitting at a table with my new friends I spent almost all of the time with a couple that will marry in august. We were planning how I will come to their marriage and them to come in Bulgaria after the wedding. We were trying to seize every minute and every moment to say all the things that we wanted to say to each other before my leaving.

Everything went well before we (me and the girl) decided to go for a walk outside, because she didn’t feel good and had a pain in the stomach. We went outside on the street and took an unknown direction in the dark; we were talking and enjoying our time together, laughing about all the things that happened during this seminar. After walking not more than five minutes she wanted to sit somewhere because her stomach-ache started to be more and more painful, there were no benches around and the street was dark, so we just sated on the pavement to wait until the pain to stop. I held her in my arms to relax and no longer than one or two minutes behind us I saw a light coming from a minibus.

The car stopped in front of us and I recognized that this is not a usual car but a police patrol minibus. We stand up and a police officer came from inside talking something in Romanian language, I couldn’t understand anything but I was sure that they were just checking whether everything is alright. The girl went to them and after speaking something with the officer she went inside of the car and called me to enter also. They started talking about something, but I understood nothing and she explained him that I’m Bulgarian and the purpose of my visit to Romania in their language.

The police officer asked us for our documents, but explicably why they were not with us but in the restaurant. They took us on another street, which was very dark with the car and started asking what were we doing there and why we were sitting on the pavement. Almost all the time the officer was speaking in Romanian language and all that I understood was that the problem is that we don’t have any documents with us. He told me to open all my pockets and to show what I had there. The restaurant was near by so we decided that somebody should go there and bring our passports, I wanted to go but he they didn’t allowed me and let the other girl to go.

Before she left the car she said to me “don’t talk anything with him” then I understood that the situation is much more complicated than I was thinking before. After she left the policeman started to talk with me in English asking me questions about my relation with that woman. He asked me many times in different ways whether we are lesbians, am I in love with her, where I’m sleeping and what I’m doing in Romania. I didn’t tell him anything and didn’t answer to the private questions explaining that this is something personal and he is not allowed to ask me such questions. He answered to me that he is asking this just because of his curiosity and continued trying to gain more information.

After he saw that I would not answer he said to me that I did something illegal and that before three days in Romania exists a new law that forbids and punish homosexual relations. He told me that I should pay an “amenda” and after I asked what does this means he explained me briefly that I did something against the law and now I have to pay. I was afraid, I didn’t have any documents with me and I was in a car with two police officers (the driver and the one that made the inquiry) on a place that I didn’t know, in a foreign country, so everything was possible.

I had my mobile phone with me and I started looking for a telephone number that I wanted to call, the number of a person that works in the Romanian LGBT organization ACCEPT in order to gain some information about the laws but he told me that I’m not allowed to call nobody. I understood from his face and insinuations that he is playing with me and laughing. He explained that in Romania the homosexuals are very rare and that they are prosecuted by the law. I was scared and at the same time very confused, because I knew that in Romania there is legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and I couldn’t realize why I was arrested.

At the same time I was very angry because even if it exist such law that prosecutes homosexuals I did nothing to be arrested, nothing more than hugging a person that I like and which needed me because she didn’t felt well. Everything was clear, we were there for nothing, we were arrested just because somebody needed to have fun with us or maybe get some more money and I wanted to escape from their hands as soon as possible. They were looking at me like I was an animal from the zoo, they tried to get private information about my personality and the purpose was that they just wanted to spend their time with somebody interesting and new for them, laughing and offending me. When the girl came back with the documents I wanted to say to her what they told me but the one asking questions stopped me saying “Don’t talk with her”.

He took our passports and read carefully all the information, he asked some more questions about her, where and with who she lives in Romanian and after that he wrote on a paper the names and numbers of the passports and some other notes which I couldn’t see. When he took my passport he saw the rainbow sticker on it and smiled. Because the girl took all my bag from the restaurant he asked me to open it and to show one by one everything that I had inside, asking me about everything on what purpose I’m wearing it.

All the time the other policeman was staying in front of the door of the minibus as a guardian. After that they had the same conversation that he had with me with the other girl but in Romanian language and he asked her the same questions: “who I am”, “are we girlfriends”, “is she in love with me”, “what we were doing on the street”. She showed him her stomach which was swelled and again explained that she don’t feel good and just wanted to seat for a while.

Around half an hour we stayed in that car, observed and asked the same questions, me in English, her in Romanian. During all that time I tried not to show any fear or to say something about my personal life because they were just waiting for this. But even without saying anything they recognized me as a lesbian, because I look more masculine and different from their vision for woman.

I wanted to scream on their faces that I’m lesbian, that I work in the Bulgarian LGBT organization, that I know my rights and the Romanian law, but I felt that it was more secure on that time to stay calm and to speak about anything which will be a purpose for them to continue the interrogation, I was more scared about the other girl and I wanted to save her from that mess.

They were not doing their job and the purpose of our arrest was invented by them, they lied to us about a law that doesn’t exist at all in Romania in order to scare us or to gain information in a deceitful way. All the time I was trying to see some information about them, but they were not wearing their badges. They stopped the minibus on a street where everything was dark and it was hard to see the number plate of the care but one is sure – I will always remember their faces.

Finally after all when they understood that we don’t have money with us and they cannot do anything more they left us to go back in the restaurant. When we came back we said the entire story to her boyfriend and to the others and everybody was angry because of what happened with us, but it passed and it was more important that we are fine and escaped from them after all. I understood that I could do nothing against the police officers because I couldn’t say anything about them, no names, no numbers, no nothing, just their faces.

I called the person I know from the LGBT organization in Romania and I told her the story, unfortunately that was all we could do, she told me the same, that they can do nothing against the police officers because nobody knows their names and that it will hardly to find out who were they. The same day we said good-bye.

I was personally affected and it was more than a stress for the other girl, because she never had any contact with the reality I met before just because I look different. I was not so much scared about myself but more about her because she never had a closer touch with homosexuality and the problems we met during our lives. For me everything seemed to be usual because that was not my first time being humiliated I such way from somebody in my country, but I didn’t expected this to happened in a country where “diversity is welcome” and where an anti discrimination law exists.

It is truth and that case proved to me that the law means nothing when the society doesn’t agree and doesn’t accept diversity and we have to walk a long way until the time when your sexual orientation or the way you look will not be a purpose to be treated differently by the others. And here we can take a look on the recommendations that were written already in the country report on the status of LGBT people in Romania by the executive director of ACCEPT, Florin Buhuceanu:

1. Romania must ratify as soon as possible the Additional Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibiting discrimination on any grounds.
2. The Romanian Government must adopt legal measures aimed at preventing and combating indirect discrimination, and also the procedure of reversing the burden of proof.
3. The Romanian Government and the National Council for Combating Discrimination must initiate public policies for the social inclusion and participation of LGBT persons in society, and to combat their exclusion.
4. Educational programmes and campaigns should be initiated and developed by the National Council for Combating Discrimination in partnership with LGBT organisations for magistrates, police, medical and educational authorities, to reduce prejudice and stereotypes about LGBT people.
5. A media campaign aimed at increasing cultural and social diversity of Romanian society (including sexual orientation issues) needs to be designed and implemented in close partnership with the National Council for Combating Discrimination and LGBT organisations.

After facing the reality and realized the importance of these recommendations I fully support them and hope that they will be implemented as soon as possible in order to create a better society where people can freely express their selves without being prosecuted and treated in a different way just because of their sexual orientation.

I’m thankful that the destiny met me, but not somebody else with this case. I wish I could say aloud one day that this didn’t happened again to nobody. I do hope that we should and will be stronger next time when somebody is trying to treat us badly. Such incidents are making me stronger and giving me power to go further in what I’m doing.

Bulgarian Gay Organization "GEMINI"
office: 3 Vassil Levski blvd., app.7
1142 Sofia
PO BOX 123
1784 Sofia
phone/fax: +359 /2/ 987 68 72
cellular: +359 /0/ 89 418 868
personal web:

February 11, 2004 – New York Times, New York

Romania Declares Victory in Fight Against AIDS

by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
Bucharest, Romania – After a long, clumsy war against AIDS, Romania has finally declared itself the winner. "Yes – at this moment, we have a victory," said Dr. Adrian Streinu-Cercel, president of the National AIDS Committee. "Everyone who needs triple therapy is getting triple therapy." The country, which became infamous in 1990 for the squalid orphanages and babies dying of AIDS that marked the final years of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship, is now being cited as a model of how governments, drug companies and international agencies can bring AIDS under control by ensuring that the necessary three-drug anti-retroviral cocktails are available and paid for. "One of the big lessons of Romania," Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of Unaids, a United Nations agency, said recently, "is that it can be done."

At the same time, public health experts fear that a second wave will hit soon. Children infected in the late 1980’s are now becoming old enough to have sex, give birth and breast-feed, all ways of transmitting H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Cheap heroin also has come to Bucharest, where many users share needles. Even the infected themselves are finding that being granted a longer life can be a mixed blessing. As they grow up, they become more aware of their plight, and more frustrated at the discrimination they face. All the same, for a poor country like Romania, where the average wage is only $6 a day – less than a quarter of Poland’s and one twenty-fifth of Germany’s – getting enough drugs and stopping the spread of the disease even for the moment is a remarkable accomplishment.

No country outside North America or Western Europe can echo the claim. Multinational pharmaceutical companies particularly like to cite Romania, because its successes were achieved without importing inexpensive generic drugs. Instead, the companies cut their prices and donated money to set up laboratories and train doctors. Nonetheless, a recent World Health Organization report found prices "still substantially higher than in other parts of the world." Because Romania’s AIDS burden is so unusual, though, and the percentage affected so small, it is hard to know how good a model it is. The country has only about 10,000 infected people, compared with South Africa’s 5 million or India’s 4.6 million. Ukraine, just to the east, is believed to have more than 300,000 infected.

Also, a vast majority of the infected in Romania – perhaps 7,000 – are in a small and tragic cohort that is clearly defined. Most are people ages 12 to 17 who were injected with contaminated blood as infants, from 1987 to 1991. In those days of scarce food and vitamins, Romanian doctors gave "micro-transfusions" of blood to anemic babies. They also used immunoglobulins, made from blood products, for relatively minor illnesses. School nurses reused vaccination needles. Some of today’s victims were rescued from orphanages when aid poured in after Mr. Ceausescu’s overthrow and execution in 1989. Most of those who are still alive, however, have parents; their H.I.V. infections were found only as they got older.

In 1997, when the government created its AIDS plan, fewer than 30 Romanians were on triple anti-retroviral drugs. By 2000, hundreds of children were. Then, because of a combination of high drug prices and bungled federal budgets, the money ran out. Death rates shot up. The ensuing outcry was the catalyst for change. The government created a committee of public health officials, lawmakers, parents, advocates for patients and drug companies, headed by Dr. Streinu. The national AIDS budget rose slowly starting in 1997, to $30 million a year from $3 million, and Romania won a $49 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Now everyone in treatment is tracked on one national database. Those with full-blown AIDS – about 5,300 patients – get not only triple therapy, but a daily $2 food allowance, a monthly stipend of $100 for a caregiver (usually a child’s mother) and 12 train tickets a year to Bucharest or another city for tests and counseling. The government buys AIDS drugs in bulk, giving it more bargaining power than individual hospitals, and does not tax them. A crucial part of the mix was that the drug companies reduced their prices. Merck & Company led the way in March 2001, cutting the prices of its two AIDS drugs by 86 percent. The company had already donated more than $1 million toward the program. The company now "sells these drugs at no profit in Romania," said Dr. Adrian Caretu, manager of Merck’s office here. By 2002, five other drug companies had either cut prices or offered to donate two or three free anti-retroviral pills for each one bought here.

Most chose to donate, explained Eduard Petrescu, the country’s Unaids adviser, because European governments often use prices in nearby countries as a guide for setting drug prices. The drug companies, he said, "feared this would open the door to price reductions across Europe." Now that the epidemic is tamped down – only about 350 new cases appear each year, mostly among adults contracting H.I.V. infections from sex or babies born to H.I.V.-positive mothers – officials are hoping to keep it that way. But there are ominous signs. "Victory?" said Maria Georgescu, director of the Romanian Association Against AIDS. "I don’t know. That means you are on top and can manage everything, and that’s not the case." About 2,000 infected Romanians never show up for treatment. Some have developed drug resistance and dropped out, waiting to die. Some dislike the side effects of the anti-retrovirals.

Some teenagers are in families that are too poor and disorganized to bring them in or that refuse to accept their diagnoses. What is more worrisome, she said, is "that we are awaiting an explosion among drug users." Bucharest alone has an estimated 30,000, and hepatitis C, transmitted by needle-sharing, is rampant. "If the AIDS virus gets among them," said Mr. Petrescu of Unaids, "there could be another 10,000 infected in one year. It would ruin all the work done in the last five years." Counselors are trying to teach the youngsters already infected about protected sex. Vasi, who was left at a Bucharest hospital as a sickly child and sees his rural family only occasionally, is now a fairly healthy 15-year-old who wears three earrings in his left ear, listens to Eminem and hangs out at McDonald’s. "If I tell a girl I have H.I.V., she will freak out, she will panic," he said through a translator at a session with a hospital psychologist. "I had a girlfriend this summer.

She knew, but she wouldn’t tell anyone." "We did kiss," he added, "but I protected her if I felt anything wrong, like if I had bitten my tongue. I was very careful to keep my nails short, to not scratch her by accident." He said he was afraid to have sex with her. "I am afraid that no one will ever accept me," he said. "It’s too much sacrifice for a girl." In the same hospital, a social worker and nurse talked about Florentina, a girl they had to drop from the anti-retroviral program. "She was here since she was 4 or 5," the social worker said. "She used to bake cookies with my daughter. But when she was 16, she met a boy at a metro station, a street kid. She began living with him." Florentina stopped taking her pills on time – raising the risk of resistance – and became obnoxious about all medical care. The nurse said she gave Florentina medicine for a rash. "She said to me, `Oh, I have no problem if you want to come over and wash me and put it on, but I have no time to wash myself.’ "

The doctor in charge of the hospital’s AIDS program mentioned that Florentina was 9 weeks pregnant. "So?" the frustrated nurse said to a reporter. "You hear how she learned to use a condom?" In Galatsi, an impoverished river port town in northeastern Romania, Ciprian, 14, and Costel, 15, are roommates in a small "apartment orphanage." They go to special-needs schools because they were forced out of regular ones once their infections became known. They say they never mention their status to their classmates, even though they know some are H.I.V. positive.

Discrimination almost caused one of their apartment-mates, 11-year-old Anisor, to lose a leg over a sprained ankle. A tight cast cut off his circulation, but doctors refused to look at him again, said Dr. Anna Burtea, who runs the orphanage. One said it was hopeless and scheduled an amputation. Dr. Burtea said she begged a nighttime attending doctor to perform pressure-relieving surgery that saved the leg. Even then, she said, "we had to keep someone there for a month to get his food and change his dressing. The doctor was nice, but the staff were keeping their distance." Now that they are teenagers, the infected youngsters are contemplating their futures.

Ciprian, the tallest and strongest, wants to be a carpenter, build his own house, join the army – "I don’t know if I am allowed," he cautioned – then get married, have two or three children. Then, "Who knows? Maybe I can have a business to help street children." He only looks for H.I.V.-positive girlfriends, he said. "Because if I were to choose a girl who is not H.I.V. . . ." his voice trailed off. "I don’t want to infect others." Costel dreamed of being an F.B.I. agent, but now realizes that his health and citizenship make that unlikely. He wants to finish school and find someplace to live with his sister and brother, because the grandmother they live with is near death. It is "a little premature" for these youngsters to plan for marriage or careers, Dr. Streinu said.

He is proud that the average life expectancy for a Romanian with full-blown AIDS is up to six years. A few years ago, it was six months. His pessimism frustrates Mary Veal, an American volunteer who has worked with infected children in Romania for years. "I got news for him – these kids are thinking about it," she said. "I can’t look at these kids and ask, `How long are you going to live?’ Their friends started dying before age 8, when the anti-retrovirals came, and they’re still here."

December 14, 2004

Letter From Romania–The Meaning Of Sunday’s Elections
(not pro-gay but not anti-gay)

I thought that, in view of last Sunday’s presidential election in Romania, I’d ask a recent Romanian immigrant–my admirable friend Adrian Coman–to give us his thoughts about them. Adrian was a staffer for Romania’s leading human rights organization, and later became executive director of the Romanian gay rights group ACCEPT. Adrian continued his valiant struggle for gay rights, right until Romania finally repealed its laws making same-sex love a crime–but only after pressure from members of the European parliament, who threatened to block Romania’s entry into the European Union if the country didn’t erase those anti-gay laws.

Adrian now works in New York for the Baltic-American Partnership Fund, a funding agency sponsoring projects in the Baltic countries, which was created by George Soros and U.S. AID. One aspect of the Romanian regime-in-power’s attempt to keep hold of government was its deploying of political homophobia against the opposition candidate for president, which made it even more obvious that Adrian was the right person to analyze the Romanian election.

Adrian Coman just returned two weeks ago from Romania. Here, then is his first-hand report: A Chance for Reform in Romania The results of the presidential run-off announced today, December 13, 2004 – in my opinion – bring hope to Romania. Traian Basescu, mayor of Bucharest and candidate of opposition’s alliance (DA), won by a small margin against Adrian Nastase, current prime minister, candidate of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD).

Let’s first have a look at the political base of the two and the current shape of the parliamentary groups, as they resulted from the parliamentary elections of November 28, 2004. Then let me say what I expect from a Basescu-led Romania. Romania’s ruling politicians departed from the Communist past only during 1996-2000 when a center-right alliance, the Democratic Convention, was in power. Unfortunately, the Convention disappointed the electorate with their inability to implement reforms and to manage internal disputes.

The National Liberal Party (PNL), and the Democratic Party (PD) – currently forming the DA Alliance, at the time were part of the Convention. During 1990–1996 and 2000 to present, a self-styled "left-leaning" regime, under the patronage of President Ion Iliescu, has ruled the country. Today it takes the form of PSD, on behalf of which Adrian Nastase ran for presidency with the blessing of Ion Iliescu– who has well exhausted the number of times he could run for presidency himself according to the Constitution.

All these years, PSD managed to appeal to the masses by slow reforms and a paternalistic approach, emphasizing the need to consolidate the state and let the past remain unknown on issues such as who collaborated with Ceausescu’s Securitate. Romania seemed not to be able to do away with Ion Iliescu–he will continue to play a major role from his recently secured Parliament seat, most probably, also, as a come-back leader of PSD. In the legislative elections, held November 28, 2004, neither PSD, nor the DA alliance won a majority in parliament. One of them will have to form an alliance with at least two of the three other parties that made it to the Parliament: The Humanist Party (PUR), the ultra-nationalist Greater Romania (PRM), and the ethnic Hungarians’ Union (UDMR).

The former two supported Adrian Nastase in the run-off. The latter boycotted the run-off and encouraged their supporters not to go to the polls. In reality, Basescu won with votes from the three parties’ supporters, particularly those of the Greater Romania. Although The Humanist Party made it to the parliament in electoral alliance with PSD, and the Hungarian’s Union said – before the run-off – that they will support PSD, Basescu has now asked them to form a parliamentary majority with the DA alliance. I predict that both will desert PSD and join the alliance.

Anyway, whoever forms the majority, and therefore the government, will face a stiff opposition in parliament. Some already speak about anticipated elections. It may be interesting to point out that Basescu’s party, at the time led by another 1989 Revolution figure – Petre Roman – actually split from Iliescu and Nastase’s PSD.

This gets to an interesting aspect of the recent elections: both Nastase and Basescu–one in power, the other in opposition– claim to be social democrats (and both parties are full members of the Socialist International).

This is one argument to show that political labels in Romania are not necessarily anchored in distinct political programs. Although the sophisticated Western press refers to Basescu as of the "center-right," electors still vote for personalities rather than for "liberals" [in the European sense of the term, meaning free-market advocates–D.I.], social-democrats or what have you, particularly since many politicians migrated from one party to another.

Parties are little shaped by political doctrines, tending to be populist in their proposed programs. They all seek the support of the majority’s Orthodox Church, and their leaders can be seen crossing themselves in churches; they all support social assistance with government funding, are for European Union (EU) membership, etc. They do differ on some accounts – at doctrinal level – such as on the respect for private property, something that has never appealed to Ion Iliescu whose governments, prompted by the European Court of Human Rights, have had to pay significant amounts from taxpayers’ funds to compensate former owners deprived of their properties in Ceausescu’s time, to whom the new regime has not granted restitution.

Another difference may be that Ion Iliescu and his party have never departed from the structures and practices of the Communist regime. During the only TV show held before the presidential run-off with the two candidates, Basescu told Nastase that the Romanian people are cursed to have to choose between two former communists, although specifying that he has departed from the communist mentality, while Nastase has not. Late at night in the election day, Basescu’s supporters gathered in the famous University Square of Bucharest and shouted the same message as 15 years ago: "Down with the communism."

But what can Romania expect from President Basescu and, I hope, a DA alliance-led government? Basescu spoke about freeing the public institutions, the media, and civil society from political influence, about implementing the reforms required as a precondition for membership by the EU and explaining them to the populace.

He promised to lead the fight against corruption, and consolidate a strategic alliance in foreign affairs with the US, UK, and the EU, also improving relations with the neighboring Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, and further, with Russia. I think, generally, civic rights and liberties, as well as the media will have something to gain, as Basescu himself faced a controlled media, and was supported by an alliance of civil society organizations that tried to expose publicly the corruption and lack of values in Romanian politics.

The rule of law is one pending issue highlighted in the EU evaluation of Romania’s progress towards admission to membership. Basescu has no reason to backslide in this area. He himself, and the DA alliance, were the victims of politicized public institutions in the election process. He claimed there was fraud, and I believe him.

I was in Romania on November 28, and was told how easily it was to take off the "voted" sticker applied to one’s plasticized ID card, and go vote in another electoral circumscription on the notorious "supplementary" lists. In many cases, busses were arranged by PSD for this "electoral tourism," as it was called.

Another manipulation technique they used was to falsify millions of leaflets of a civil society coalition that tried to expose the candidates from all parties who did not observe basic principles, such as conflict of interest, collaboration with Ceausescu’s Securitate or political party migration. Basescu was the only party leader who adopted those principles to purge some of the initial candidates of his party.

As for sensitive issues, Basescu seems not afraid to face them. Less than a month ago, during the election campaign, he stated that he does not oppose same-sex marriages, attracting political fire from the PSD–and then prompting the most known gay rights organization in the country, ACCEPT, to ask publicly not to use hatred and Romanians’ anti-gay feelings for political capital.

I briefly met Basescu a few years ago and I do not think he is pro gay. However, he seems to understand the rapid development of gay rights, particularly in the context of the EU enlargement, and he is politically mature enough not to block it. Basescu is certainly not a saint, and the coalition he will gather around him will have to make many compromises. However, I think Basescu will avoid making PSD’s mistakes, such as maintaining the corrupt in power and counting on an easy manipulation of Romanians.

I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on Romania’s needed economic reforms. However, I will say that the same economic reforms seemed to have been on the agenda of all political parties and governments so far. The difference consisted of how seriously they were implemented, and how much derogation from the rule was granted along the way; PSD was notorious for the latter, as a means to buy political capital.

Currently, Romanians have 1⁄4 of the EU average standard of living. Nobody can raise it overnight, but I hope Basescu will oversee a system in which corruption will diminish, and reforms will be approached according to a vision and in a rational way. It is not going to be easy, but for the first time Romania has a president who seems to be honest, does not have a past to cover up and who offers a chance to reshape politics on the basis of values and principles – the thing we missed most in the past 15 years in Romanian political life. To keep up with Romanian news you can visit –Adrian Coman

P.S. After I saw a wildly optimistic and ill-informed clip this morning from U.K. Gay News claiming that President-elect Basescu had been on the stump for gay rights, I asked Adrian for his comment. He replied: "It is not true that Basescu campaigned pro-gay rights–ever."

March 1, 2005 – The Associated Press

Gays Win Romania Airline Case

Bucharest – Authorities on Tuesday found that Romania’s state-owned airline illegally excluded gays from a Valentine’s Day sale for couples, and ordered the company to pay a $180 fine. The nation’s main gay rights group welcomed the decision, but said the fine was "ridiculously small" and announced plans to sue. The group ACCEPT had filed charges against TAROM, accusing the airline of denying gay couples the right to purchase tickets in a two-for-one discount offer for the month of February.

The group said several gay couples tried to purchase tickets but were refused by travel agents, who told them that TAROM’s offer applied only to heterosexual couples. The National Board for Fighting Discrimination, a government body that enforces fair practices, said it fined TAROM $180 for "restricting the free access, under equal conditions, to public services and places." TAROM officials were not immediately available for comment. The board also ordered the company to train its staff on issues regarding discrimination and equality, the council said in a statement. During the investigation, the airline acknowledged having told travel agents that the discounts were valid only for heterosexual passengers, the board said.

ACCEPT said it would file a lawsuit against TAROM and seek damages on behalf of couples who were refused the discount.
" The board’s decision is correct, but the fine is ridiculously small as TAROM is a public company," said ACCEPT chairman Florin Buhuceanu.
Homosexuality was a crime in Romania until 2001, when the government removed the offense from the penal code to comply with demands from the European Union, which Romania hopes to join in 2007.

May 26, 2005 – UK Gay

Romanian President Steps In to Save Bucharest Gay Pride Parade

The Romanian President has stepped in to save this weekend’s Bucharest’s Gay Pride Parade – GayFest – which has now been given full official blessing by city authorities, it was learned tonight. President Train Basescu, himself a former and popular mayor of the Romanian capital, intervened after receiving thousands of emails from across Europe and the world pleading that the parade, banned by the current mayor, Adrieau Videanu, be given official status. Gay activists in Bucharest had vowed to go ahead with the parade, despite the ban and with the knowledge that the parade would have been an act of civil disobedience without the permit from the Mayor.

This prompted the city’s police chief to go on radio to say that police would punish those taking part on Saturday. With Romania preparing to become a member nation of the European Union, and European Parliament expressing last month concerns about continuing discrimination of minority groups in the country, President Basescu acted swiftly after receiving a flood of emails. The President, with other top government officials, are reported to have met with Mayor Videanu, resulting the the permit for the march being issued earlier today. Three days ago, Florin Buhceanu, Executive Director of the Romanian human rights organisation Accept Romania, and Rev. Elder Diane Fisher of the Metropolitan Community Church sent out a joint email across the world telling of the problem of the permit for the parade and how the mayor had suddenly refused permission after his officials had agreed the parade route. They asked that emails be sent to both the Mayor and the President.

Such was the response that on Wednesday morning the Mayor had his email address disabled. Neither Buhceanu or Rev. Fisher could be reached, but they told the Press earlier that they were delighted at the intervention of the President. “ The willingness of people around the world to speak out for our Romanian brothers and sisters demonstrates the power that we have to change the minds of political leaders and the course of a nation’s government,” Rev. Fisher is reported to have told friends in New York on the telephone. Reaction to the article on UK Gay News has been astonishing. Server logs show that government departments from across Europe have accessed the page.

May 27, 2005 – UK Gay

Ambassador Assures MEP On Bucharest Gay Pride Parade

London – The Romanian Ambassador has assured a British MEP that the Bucharest Pride Parade has been issued with a permit and will definitely go ahead tomorrow. Michael Cashman, an MEP for the West Midlands and chair of the European Parliament’s Gay and Lesbian Intergroup, said this morning (Friday) that he had spoken with Ambassador Dan Ghiberena. Michael Cashman MEP “ [The Ambassador] promised that the Gay Pride could be held as previously scheduled,” Cashman said. Romanian officials appear to be playing down the matter. The only comment coming officially from the embassy in London this morning is that the GayFest Parade is going ahead tomorrow and the fact has been mentioned on Bulgarian television. “We don’t have any further statement,” said press counsellor Dr. Sorin Baciu.

However, activists in the Bucharest gay community were not so hesitant. “ Thank you so much for your support,” said Florin Buhceanu and Rev. Elder Diane Fisher in a joint email sent to supporters worldwide this morning. “ The hundreds of phone calls and emails received by the mayor of Bucharest and the president of Romania made a huge difference. Yesterday, the mayor’s commissioner gave permission for the march and announced that they will provide for police protection. “ This decision is an historic first step for the LGBT community in Romania, in gaining visibility. We truly appreciate all the international support we have received and know that you will be with us in spirit as we march on Saturday. We march for freedom, we march for tolerance, we march with pride and for all of those unable to be with us, we march because we must,” the email concludes.

Last night, it emerged that President Train Basescu had personally intervened, virtually ordering Bucharest mayor Adrieau Videanu to grant a permit for the parade. Earlier in the week, it emerged that Mayor Videanu had refused organisers a permit, after his officials had agreed the parade route.

December 2005 – From: "michael labelle" <>

Update on gay scene in Romania

My name is Michael Labelle. I am a U.S. citizen living most of the time in the city of Cluj Napoca in Romania. I just wanted to inform you, in case you are considering updating your site, that now, in 2005, things are quite different for gays. I published, along with Be an Angel, Romania’s First Gay magazine(a few weeks before Accept did Inklusiv!; but who’s counting; they have money from the State; we don’t). You can see our site at I also started a bar, which is now unfortunately closed due to neighbors complaints and other assorted ‘schmeckeria’ called Breakpoint Underground ( which was, in effect, a gay club; one of the first in Romania. It was quite popular until it closed in July this year.

Also, I have a gay guesthouse called Rainbow Guest Villa; you can see that online at and a nascent alternative ad agency, which may or not survive due to the fact that my money from the U.S. has pretty much run out! "reclaim the Reklama" So there is a lot of gay stuff now. There are two bars now in Bucharest, and two gay parties, both on Saturday, in Cluj. If you want more info please contact me.

Also, there is a gay owned pub and accomodation north of Constanta owned by two Englishmen, though they have had perhaps, even more difficulties than me in terms of people constantly stealing from them and even physical violence recently, which is very disconcerting. I did get beaten up once in front of a club here in Cluj which attracts some gays on Saturday nights; but it wasn’t that serious. There is also a gay-owned accomodation 6km outside of Brasov which is very nice, owned by a couple who have been together for 15 years. So Romania is changing; and I hope that will be reflected on your site.

March 9, 2006 – Bucharest Daily News

The gay lifestyle: Swinging between freedom and prejudice

by Denisa Maruntoiu
Bucharest’ gay clubs, nonconformist establishments where gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals can express their true identity and party, have developed amazingly fast into a complex, fascinating world. A visit to a gay night club proves that in less than five years, a city once puritanical and narrow-minded, has managed to offer its gay community all the necessary means for an utterly hedonistic existence.

Late in the night, around 50 gays and lesbians are sensually dancing to pulsing, mesmeric house music. Red and orange lights play across sweaty faces, tattooed shoulders, miniskirts, tight jeans and colorful scarves, while the cigarette smoke draws circles of lust around the few men cuddling on small sofas in Queen’s, one of the new fancy gay night clubs in Bucharest. Florin, a 42-year-old public worker, surveys the scene while sipping a glass of red wine delicately. He is wearing a tight, glossy T-shirt which proclaims "I’ll never admit I’m bisexual".

Next to him, a very young, short, redheaded girl in a green smock and a skinny, dark-haired man giggle and wave their hands. From time to time, the girl tenderly touches Florin’s shoulder, but says nothing. "They are both my lovers", says Florin pointing towards the two. "They don’t mind pleasing me at the same time. I think they love me in a certain way and have agreed to share me," he adds. The broadminded, voluptuous atmosphere in Queen’s is something that Romania’s conservatives would probably have never predicted. But the big cities of Romania, once stodgy and ashamed of sexual diversity, have recently witnessed a flowering of gay culture. Gay bars and dance clubs have sprung up since 2001, when homosexuality stopped being a criminal offence.

Nevertheless, because most gay people still agree that keeping their sexual orientation away from public eyes is the safest policy, gay clubs have formed an underground, startling world where they can be as free as they desire. " Between these walls I can be wild and hedonistic, I can indulge in spicy sexual experiences, and I can cross the boundaries imposed by straight society," says Florin, whose main reasons to hide behind the confidentiality of a gay club is that he is married and has two kids. "My family knows nothing about my bisexual life. I told my wife that my job is somehow related to the intelligence services and that this is why I spend many nights away from home," he confesses while pointing to his manifesto-T-shirt.

Florin is sure he will never have the heart to admit he is bisexual. "Romanians are not tolerant. There are men who would simply kill me if they knew that I am bisexual," he adds. Plus, Florin is not willing to give up his day-time life, when he takes his kids to the zoo and cooks together with his wife. "I love this peaceful life, but when the night comes my hormones go nuts and I become a swinger, a wild beast, a party-man and a macho," Florin says. His two lovers smile and shake their heads, suggesting Florin has created a perfect self-portrait.

Florin is also sure that most of the gay clubbers share his view on life as a never-ending sexual race, a game which, he says, can easily be described like this: "I love making love to men because they are strong and rough, but I also love making love to women because they are obedient. The combination is simply ravishing," he concludes, while jumping from his chair and heading to the dance floor. His seat is immediately taken by a tall, blonde and extremely sweaty woman, wearing a flashy violet, tight dress. Her eyes seem to gaze at another young woman, a thin brunette who is bending and spinning her body amazingly while dancing. " Cari turned me on from the very first moment. She is delicate, thin, and soft. But I warned her I get bored very easily," chimes in the blonde, referring to the startling dancer.

Lily, as she calls herself, is a 27-year-old lesbian who, after 6 p.m., gives up her PR assistant’s decent black suit in favor of sexy skirts and tops, and heads towards the first gay club that comes to her mind. Lily considers the gay night clubs are an oasis of safety and delight where she can fulfill her secret sexual needs. " I want my life always to be a sexual roller coaster. Cari is really hot, isn’t she?" Lily says, pointing to the brunette on the dance floor.

Lily and Cari are what the pop culture calls "the clubbers". They spend their nights dancing, drinking, dreaming, kissing, and never revealing their true identity. The gay clubs in Bucharest are their "public dens," as Lily says. Each gay clubber seems to have an incredible story, but in the ecstatic atmosphere of the club, where the cigarette smoke and the pheromones blend with a hypnotic body language, it is hard to tell if their stories are real or just fantasy, a product of their lust and imagination.

The gay clubs and their regulars are distinct parts of a puzzle called "the Romanian gay lifestyle" which is still missing important parts. Although the gay culture has dared to expose its basic instincts by leaving behind public toilets and parks and replacing them with fancy clubs, there are still many stairs to climb towards elitism as Romania still doesn’t have gay art clubs, theaters and music bands.

Nevertheless, Romanian gays have made great accomplishments when it comes to fashion and manners, mainly due to the night clubs which favor the socialization process and the competition for sexual supremacy. " I go to clubs when I feel the need for sexual diversity. Plus, it is more fun to change your partner. It is the way you get to know human nature," Lily says. Cari, who has left the dance floor to join her two-week lover, agrees. "I don’t care about a stable, calm and boring family life," she says laughing.

Lily and Cari believe they share something more than a bed. "We share the power to trespass the limits imposed by the gods," explains Cari, who is waiting for the moment when being a lesbian will no longer be synonymous with being "a tenant of hell", as she describes it. "The fact that I am lesbian is top secret, because my parents are Muslims," Cari discloses, suggesting she is quite reticent when it comes to revealing her sexual orientation anywhere else but in the gay establishments.

The choice of gays often to live two to lives appears well justified by the fact that 43 percent of Romanians believe homosexuality is a sickness and 36 percent say it should be illegal, as a Metro Media Transilvania survey published in October 2004 reveals. But the figures and statistics seem unable to stand in the way of the quickly-emerging Romanian gay scene. The new generation of gays and lesbians display a growing appetite for sexual experience and underground encounters, thus paving the way for a very new, pleasing, and profitable business, also known as ‘the gay business.’ " In my world, you can easily mix pleasure with business," says 23-year-old Alexander, the manager of the newest gay club in Bucharest, Dietrich.

Alexander, who also runs a gay match-making service that has about 11,000 gay subscribers, is young, rich and "always in search of sex and fun", as he proudly admits. His parents are well-known public figures who do not want him to reveal his sexual preferences and he himself is the director of a spices import company. But at night, Alexander is not willing to give up the flashy outfit, pierced ears and eyebrows, ripped off pants and tight boxers. "During the day, I am a perfectly decent man. But during the night I am one of the informal leaders of the Bucharest gay community," he says, reclining on the purple silk sofas that make the number one trump of Dietrich.

Although the club only opened just before New Year’s Eve, it already has its regulars; men and women always available for a night full of surprises in an intimate establishment. " What makes Dietrich a honey-pot for the gay citizens of Bucharest is the large number of foreign gay people who often come here. The expats are a sort of exotic bait mainly because they are rich and more open-minded," explains Alexander. No matter if they are tourists or residents, gays who come from countries like Germany, France, and Great Britain are an important part of Bucharest’s gay community.

The more tolerant approach to sexuality that defines Western countries, which is totally different from that of former communist Romania, has led to an obvious gap between Romanian and expat gay people. One of the main differences is that expats are not so afraid of coming out of the closet and revealing their name, occupation and history. Briton Richard Stanton, a 30-year-old private English teacher, says he does not care about hiding behind a name. "It is hard and unpleasant just until you admit to yourself that you are a man attracted by men. Then the stalk for sex begins," Stanton says. In his opinion, the gay lifestyle is about pleasing oneself, and indulging in whatever desire you want at any given time, without being forced to hide your lifestyle, values, and principles.

Stanton has been living in Bucharest for about six years. He wasn’t supposed to, but he has fallen in love with a young Romanian, Remus. "Our relationship has always been our own creation, the product of a love some people believe isn’t even supposed to exist," explains Stanton. However, despite his long-term relationship, Stanton is firmly convinced that most gay people are superficial, afraid of commitment, and completely focused on debauchery. "Some want to have relationships, but find it harder to make a vow, so they engage in a series of sexually exclusive, short-term affairs. When we’re not having sex, we’re going to gyms, drinking, and dancing. We are the hip, urban handsome men who have more money to spend on fine art, travel, garments, restaurants, booze, and other frivolous drugs," Stanton says. "But don’t take me too seriously. I might be wrong," he adds.

Nevertheless, those who disagree with Stanton, Florin, Lily and Alexander are usually hard to find in a night club, where the concept of debauchery does not seem to be that out of place.

Maturity is the antidote for the pleasure-seeking gays
The opponents of the hedonistic approach to the gay lifestyle are usually the more mature gay people, who refuse to make a big deal out of their sexual orientation, according to Florin Buhuceanu, the director of Accept, the best known NGO fighting for the rights of gay, bisexual, and transsexual people. "I know many stable gay couples, who have a beautiful family life. The above opinions cannot be used in reaching a viable conclusion about all gay and lesbian persons, as these opinions legitimize the prejudices against the gay community," says Buhuceanu.

30-year-old Mircea, a gay social worker, also feels as if gay people are reduced to a sexual level. "I resent that. Misunderstanding of the gay culture has determined many gay people to limit their outdoor behavior to a sexual one," he says. According to Mircea, many gay people are confused and believe that being gay means only having sex in a certain manner. "This is very sad. I am sure most gay people are just regular people starving for love and tenderness," Mircea says.

He believes that being gay shouldn’t be the main definition of his existence,as there are many other facts that represent him as a human being. "I have never felt special for being gay and I don’t think I have more rights because of it," he explains.
As for some gays’ radical sexual approach to life, Mircea says it is just a matter of personality, as each person has the right to perceive life the way he or she likes it.
" I cannot speak for them. I can only say that I am one of those tall, nice men, whom you see in the metro listening to music with their head phones on, or on the beach, dressed properly in a bathing suit and behaving decently. And I might even be your neighbor!" he concludes laughing. "But it is better not to reach a conclusion when you have to face human diversity," Mircea adds.

June 4, 2006 –

Brawls, Arrests Mar Romanian Gay Pride

by Malcolm Thornberry
(Bucharest) A gay pride march through central Bucharest turned into a riot on Saturday with police resorting to tear gas to gain control of more than a thousand protestors bent on disrupting the parade. Ten people were injured and more than 50 arrested before police were able to maintain order. Several hundred gays set out on the pride march but they were badly outnumbered by protestors – many of them from the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Before the parade began a church leader egged on the faithful. Bishop Ciprian Campineanu told a televised rally that the Bucharest march was "an outrage to morality and to the family". Nuns and priests were among the crowd that lined the streets hurling eggs and bottles at the gay marchers as they passed by.

Extreme nationalists had warned there would be trouble if the parade went on. To show support for Romania’s largely closeted LGBT community dozens of from across Europe marched in solidarity. As protestors became more rowdy police attempted to use their batons hold back the the crowd but scuffles broke out with police and demonstrators broke through the police line pummeling gays. As the situation grew worse tear gas canisters were hurled into the crowd of protesters to disperse them. Although homosexuality is no longer a crime in Romania most gays are closeted. While gay pride in Romania was marred by violence, the LGBT community in Poland has won a major victory.

Authorities in Warsaw have given the go-ahead for a pride parade next weekend. But they also gave a permit for a parade to the ultra-Catholic Polish Youth organization to hold a counter march. For the past several years gays were denied parade permits. The mayor of Warsaw at the time, Lech Kaczynski – now Poland’s president – said he was against "against propagating gay orientation". Last year more than 2,500 people ignored Kaczynski’s pride ban and march anyway. They met by members of Catholic Polish Youth who hurled eggs at the marchers. (story)

June 5, 2006 – UPI

Romania rightist violence mars gay parade

Bucharest, Romania — Supporters of Romania’s rightist and populist politicians clashed with police protecting participants in a gay pride parade. Witnesses said there were arrests and injuries, but authorities could not confirm the allegations. Some 500 people took part in the Bucharest parade Saturday to promote tolerance and indiscrimination of sexual minorities. Police guarding the parade clashed with anti-gay activists who tried to block the event, Romania’s HotNews reported Monday.

Several hundred supporters of the New Right extremist movement and the New Generation populist party staged a protest march only hours before the gay parade. Last week the Romanian Orthodox Church was active in campaigning against the gay pride parade. An Amnesty International report recently showed 40 percent of Romanians would like to deport homosexuals out of the country

11th June 2007 – PinkNews

Violence casts a shadow over gay Pride

by writer
Romania’s gay pride celebration on Saturday was marred as police used tear gas against protesters who hurled stones at marchers in the capital city Bucharest, officials said. According to the Associated Press, about 100 people were detained for throwing stones and fireworks at police and about 400 participants in the gay rights march, said Christian Ciocan, a police spokesman.
Police responded with tear gas. Nobody was injured, he said. “We regret that our opponents use violence … Police only did their job to protect an authorized march,” said Florin Buhuceanu, one of the organizers of the gay rights march, to the AP. It is our right to express our beliefs and we will not renounce in the face of violence."

DPA reports that the attackers were not identified as part of any organised group, though authorities suspect connections to a right-wing religious association Noua Dreapta, or the New Right, which rallied Saturday morning against the gay-rights march later in the day. The march was organised by Accept, a Romanian gay-rights advocacy group. DPA also reports that the Romanian Orthodox Church planned special Saturday evening masses nationwide to pray against what it believes are "sins" being promoted by the gay-rights rally. Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001 and joined the EU at the start of this year.

April 08, 2008 – The Christian Post

Pro-Family Leaders Worldwide Back Romania’s Efforts to Ban Gay ‘Marriage’

by Joshua Goldber, Christian Post Reporter
In an act of international solidarity to defend the institution of marriage, over 100 pro-family leaders from around the world signed a petition this week to defend efforts in Romania to outlaw same-sex “marriage.” In an act of international solidarity to defend the institution of marriage, over 100 pro-family leaders from around the world signed a petition this week to defend efforts in Romania to outlaw same-sex “marriage.” “We applaud the Romanian people for taking this courageous step in defense of a divinely ordained institution which predates governments and on whose health the future of society depends. And we encourage Romania’s Chamber of Deputies and others in the government to fully codify the proposed definition of marriage and, eventually, to so define marriage in Romania’s Constitution,” the petition reads.

Earlier this year, efforts by the pro-family Alliance of Romanian Families to gather 650,000 signatures to ban gay “marriage” and the Romanian Senate’s vote to amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as a “union between a man and a woman” came under attack by pro-gay groups who attempted to block the measures.

Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual (LGBT) Rights Program, was among those who criticized Romania’s efforts to ban gay “marriage” in an open letter addressed to its legislators. “The European Convention of Human Rights, one of those treaties to which Romania is a party, provides specific protection to families under Article 8, and the European Court of Human Rights is very clear that the legal definition of family should neither be discriminatory nor unduly restrictive…The right to marry is a basic human right,” he wrote. “Civil marriage is not an exception to the protections against unequal treatment, and Romanian legislators should not write their country into a trap of preemptive and discriminatory prohibition,” he added.

In response, pro-family groups from around the world have rallied to Romania’s cause to protect the institution of marriage.

Allan C. Carlson, international secretary of the World Congress of Families, spoke of the petition backing Romania as part of a world wide effort to save marriage. "This (the petition) shows the willingness of pro-family groups to stand in solidarity," he said, according to a released statement. "It is a recognition of the reality that a threat to the natural family anywhere is a threat to the natural family everywhere. We will continue to build the international pro-family movement to protect the natural family and advance our common values, wherever they are threatened," he added.

In February, the Senate of Romania voted 38 to 10 to change its Family Code to define marriage as a union “between a man and a woman.” In order for the measure to become law, the country’s Chamber of Deputies will have to decide on the issue in June. According to a 2004 study conducted by the Eurobarometer’s Targeting Social Need (TNS) Opinion & Social, Romania “had the lowest level of backing for same-sex marriage,” among eight different European Union countries. According to the study, only 11 percent of Romanians said they supported same-sex “marriage.

August 27, 2008 –

Romania launches online gay TV

Bucharest (AFP) — Homosexuals in Romania are to get their own online TV channel, dedicated to "the life and problems of the gay community," starting October 1, its creators said Monday. The channel, dubbed Angelicuss TV, will be the first of its kind in this majority Orthodox country, where homosexuality was only decriminalised in 2001.

Launched in the northwestern town of Cluj by the anti-discrimination group Be An Angel, the channel will only be broadcast on the Internet. But the varied programme will include "gay music, news, entertainment and films," the channel announced on its website. "(It) will be a means of communication in the gay community as well as with the Romanian public as a whole," said "Be An Angel" director Lucian Dunareanu. And the channel will not show any pornographic or indecent material, its creators insisted.

September 9, 2008 – PinkNews

Third of Romanians think gays should be punished

by Staff Writer,
A new poll conducted in the new EU nation of Romania has found high levels of prejudice against homosexuals and people living with HIV. The research, by Gallup, was conducted in July for the National Council for Combatting Discrimination. Romania and Bulgaria were the most recent additions to the EU; they joined in January 2007. 68% of Romanians in the poll thought homosexuality is a ‘bad choice’ and 36% think punitive measures should be taken against gays, from fines to jail.

Nearly half of the 1,200 respondents said they would not want contact with someone living with HIV or AIDS. Two thirds said they would be uncomfortable with a gay neighbour. 30% think children with AIDS should be segregated in school. Romania was one of the last European countries to decriminalise homosexuality, in 1996, and a further law banning "manifestations of homosexuality" was finally repealed in 2001. In 2002 the age of consent was equalised at 15. In December 2006 an EU funded poll found that just 11% of Romanians approved of same-sex marriage.