Why this story matters:
Called the Coalition for the Family, the association of religious, church-backed and conservative NGOs have raised 3 million signatures in 2015 to push for changing the Romanian constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Recently, their lawyers pressured a theater into refusing to host a conference called "Women Talk" that was organized by a group of feminist teenagers.
They also stopped the screening of “120 BPM”, an internationally acclaimed LGBT movie, on the grounds that it “offended people of Romanian descent, as well as the Orthodox religion.”
Much has been said on the rise of illiberal governments in Central and Eastern Europe, but grassroots associations like the Coalition for the Family also deserve to be studied and understood. This is especially true when considering how effective they are at carrying out their agenda -- no government, no matter how streamlined or autocratic, can impose its will on a community as quickly as these local lobbies.
Details from the story:
- The Coalition for the Family opposes same-sex marriage and advocates for changing Romania's constitution to fit the conservative definition of a family as the consented union between a man a woman.
- The coalition attempted to block a “Women Talk Conference” organized by teenagers in a town in central Romania.
- The conference was organized by high school students who had returned from a scholarship in the United States and received funding for the event from the U.S. State Department.
- Topics included gender equality, sexual harassment online, and women’s rights in politics and sports, as well as LGBT-related issues.
- A group of lawyers affiliated with the coalition tried to cancel the conference, saying parents did not want their children to be exposed to such information.
- After a theater buckled under pressure and canceled the event, Romanian activists and feminists helped the teens move their conference to a hotel.