07 Feb 2018

Anti-LGBT movement Rings Alarm in Romania

A group of Orthodox fundamentalists interrupted the screening of Cannes festival winner "BPM (Beats Per Minute)", a film about homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. 

Ana Maria Luca
Ana Maria Luca NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Anti-LGBT movement Rings Alarm in Romania - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

This seemingly minor event is part of a larger -- and alarming -- pattern.

In recent years, Romania’s orthodox nationalism has taken the form of an anti-LGBT movement that quickly gathered baffling social support and, consequently, attracted the attention of high profile politicians.

When election victory is at stake, many of them are willing to sacrifice a lot for an advantage -- the well-being of sexual minorities included. 

What they may not realize now is that, for Romania, the stakes are higher than one interrupted movie screening or even a same-sex marriage ban. 

The censorship of cultural and social life is one of the first symptoms of autocratic regimes. A threat not lightly felt in a country that has seen fascism first hand.

politics, religion

The grisly details

  • The fundamentalists that interrpupted the screening in Bucharest carried Orthodox icons and sang the Romanian anthem. They have accused foreign embassies and George Soros of "perverting the youth in Romania" by supporting the rights of sexual minorities.
  • They were members of the Coalition for the Family, a collective of religious NGOs that aims to change Romania’s consitution to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. 
  • Having gathered 3 million signatures under a civic legislation proposal, they can be pretty sure that it will pass in the parliament. Both the ruling Social Democrat Party and the Liberals in the opposition have made deals with the Coalition to green light the bill.
  • LGBTQ organizations claim that manifestations of hostility towards the community and the number of reported assaults have increased in the past two years. They believe the trend started with the Coalition's campaign to change the constitution.
  • "BPM (Beats Per Minute)" recounts the story of the 1990s French ACT UP movement that demanded access to treatment for AIDS patients. The movie won the grand jury prize at Cannes FF in 2017.
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