Being LGBT in an increasingly conservative Romania

Being LGBT in today’s Romania continues to be risky as the time approaches for a controversial referendum on same sex marriage.

Ana Maria Luca
Ana Maria Luca NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Being LGBT in an increasingly conservative Romania - NewsMavens
Gay couple. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

In his youth, Cristi Marcu, now 38, left the city and moved to the countryside where he has been living with his grandmother, taking care of the garden and singing in the church for the last 20 years. After deciding to come out to his family and friends in 2015, Marcu says that he found more understanding and acceptance than he had hoped for.

But this understanding and acceptance have yet to appear nationwide. The Romanian Coalition for the Family is actively campaigning for a referendum to ban gay marriage, there is increasing anti-LGBT rhetoric in traditional and social media outlets, and several attacks have taken place on LGBT people and at anti-LGBT protests -- including stopping the screening of a movie at the Bucharest Romanian Peasant Museum Cinema.

Currently, a referendum is being planned on whether to amend the Romanian Constitution to redefine marriage as an act solely between a man and a woman.

Amendments to the law on the referendum process have been deemed valid by the Constitutional Court and the law is currently on the president’s table awaiting his signature. This is a significant victory for anti-LGBT Romanians and the Social Democrat-led Parliament is already discussing whether the plebiscite should take place on June 10 or June 17.

While LGBT Romanians like Marcu are only beginning to find tolerance in their immediate circle, Romanian politicians could end up rewriting their constitution to accommodate homophobia.

Details from the story:

  • The Social Democratic party leader, Liviu Dragnea, has assigned European Affairs Minister Victor Negrescu to draft a new bill on civil partnership –- although two such bills have already been rejected by the Parliament over the past three years. The current bill, however, will ban same-sex partners from adopting children. LGBT rights organizations have said that they won’t accept the “civil partnership for referendum” deal.
  • The illustrator Paul Muresan and Marcu currently live together with the latter's 88-year-old grandmother in a village close to Cluj Napoca, Transylvania. 
  • Marcu, is the man in a famous illustration that the LGBT community used to fight back against right-wing activists who stopped a movie about LGBT rights at the Bucharest Peasant Museum earlier in the year. Activists claimed that screening a movie about LGBT couples offended the archtype of Romanian peasant as both straight and Orthodox.
  • The illustrator, Paul Muresan, was inspired by his boyfriend's story when he drew a bearded man in traditional Romanian attire with a rainbow colored rooster on his shoulder with the message “A gay Romanian peasant is no less a peasant and no less Romanian.  (…) Plus he is very skillful.”
  • Websites backed by Romania’s orthodox nationalist movement the Coalition for the Family actually advise people like Marcu that they can go back to “being normal” through therapy and Marcu confessed that for years he thought that if there was a pill to cure him, he’d take it.    
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