(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
In 2001, Romania decriminalised homosexuality by repealing Article 200 of its Penal Code, which had outlawed sexual relations that were ‘committed in public or producing a public scandal,’ and that was the last remaining law criminalising homosexual acts in Romania.
In 2006, Human Rights Watch commended Romania for being one of ‘five countries that have made exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity’ as a result of the repeal and the subsequent passage of ‘broad anti-discriminatory protections.’
A 2013 ARTICLE 19 report, Responding to Hate Speech against LGBTI People,refers to Art 269 of the Criminal Code 2009 that ‘makes incitement of the public, by any means, to hatred or discrimination against a category of person, an offence.’ However, they note that it remains unclear as to whether ‘category of person’ has been interpreted to include people defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.
R v. Special Adjudicator ex parte Gabi Ilarion Ragman, CO/3860/99, United Kingdom: High Court (England and Wales), 1 November 2000
Application for judicial review of a decision of a Special Adjudicator dismissing the Claimant's appeal against the Secretary of State's decision to refuse him asylum. The court recognised that a) homosexuals in Romania are ‘subject to general hostility and prejudice on the part of the authorities and/or the public generally’ and b) that homosexuals constitute a ‘particular social group’. However, it concluded that the prejudice faced by the appellant fell short of amounting to persecution.
Valcu v Holder, Attorney General, No. 09-2777, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 20 September 2010
The applicant claimed that he faced abuse, stigmatization, and a lack of police intervention as a result of his brother’s sexual orientation. His brother was granted asylum but he was not.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE'S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Despite legal advances, the 2013 ILGA annual report on Romania noted that the ‘risk of discrimination or bias violence targeting LGBTI people remains high, as demonstrated by reported cases of violent attacks and homophobic rhetoric in the country.’ A 2013 report on public perception regarding discrimination showed that 54% of Romanians would never have a meal with a homosexual, and 48% would be disturbed to discover a family member was gay. The UNGA Human Rights Council Working Group believe that the government has not done enough to actively fight discrimination and raise awareness of LGBTI issues in Romania. As a result of this inadequate government response, it argues that in 2012 ‘homosexuals remained one of the most discriminated groups’ in Romania.
Accessing justice is seen as a continual problem for the LGBTI population. The US Department of State’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices recorded that there had been common reports of police abuse against the LGBTI community, but that the problem of access to justice was compounded by the underreported nature of such harassment by victims for fear of the hostility that they may face as a result. The 2012 UNGA Human Rights report noted that the problems of access to justice, harassment and poor police response to homophobic violence have resulted from inadequate police training in LGBTI issues. The ILGA 2013 report makes reference to an attack in 2012 when seven people, leaving a LGBTI event in Bucharest, were attacked by a group of ten, and ‘in spite of the clear motivation behind the attack, the police did not report the incident as a hate crime, opting instead to report it as an isolated act of violence’.
However, there have recently been reports of increased collaboration between ACCEPT Association (a Romanian NGO that promotes LGBTI rights) and the General Directorate of the Bucharest Municipality Police, in an attempt to improve police training in issues dealing with discrimination based on sexual orientation.The annual GayFest event, which had in the past been the scene of homophobic attacks, occurred without incident in March 2013.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs)
ACCEPT is a Romanian human rights NGO which is committed to defending and promoting the rights of LGBTI people. It seeks to defend, by all legal means, the fundamental rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the Romanian Constitution and international treaties which Romania has ratified. It seeks to educate the public, lobby and take action on behalf of LGBTI and minority rights, develop solidarity between members of the LGBTI community, and develop services that meet the specific needs of Romania’s LGBTI population.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list any specialists on LGBTI issues in Romania, but welcome suggestions.
Researched by Kate Schofield
katealexschofieldgmail [dot] com