Romania’s LGBTI campaigners continue to fight for rights with first Pride in Transylvania

The Transylvanian city of Cluj held its first Pride parade last weekend; the latest initiative by local campaigners to push back against right-wing forces.

In Romania in November 2015 an initiative to ban gay marriage in was published in the country’s Official Gazette (‘Monitorul Oficial al Romaniei’).

Since then, a conservative wave has been fanned by the so-called Coalition for Family, an organization spearheading the attempt to change the Romanian Constitution and define marriage as only the union between a man and a woman.

In Eastern Europe, similar movements have been developing since early 2000s. Even though the European Union has promoted LGBTI rights, including such rights as a priority for candidate for accession states, the relationship between gay and lesbian rights and Brussels has been a rather sinuous one.

At the same time, with the Eastern enlargement, we have seen a revival of conservative forces across the continent. On many occasions, LGBT rights have become the contested territory where nationalism and ‘Being European’ clash.

Across Eastern Europe

In 2004 and 2005, mayor Lech Kaczyński banned the gay pride in Warsaw, Poland, claiming to have done so in order to protect the city from ‘homosexual lifestyle’.

Kaczyński’s actions were not isolated: Conservative parties forged deals with the powerful Catholic Church in order to demonize LGBTI people.

These actions resulted in two outcomes. In 2006, Warsaw Pride attracted its largest ever crowd, with 20,000 participants. Although civil unions legislation has not been passed yet, a new, anti-corruption, populist party has adopted civil unions legislation as part of its official party platform.

A similar debate over the role of LGBTI people took place in Hungary in 2011, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban changed the Constitution to ban gay marriage and placed the so-called ‘traditional family’ at the core of his party platform. At the time, it held a large majority in the Parliament.

In 2006, Lithuania tried to ban ‘homosexual propaganda’, while in 2015 Slovakia held a referendum to ban gay marriages.

This led to a legislative-led ban on gay marriages in the Constitution. In 2013, Croatia held a similar referendum resulting in a 65% to 35% victory for the conservative movement.

Orthodox Church

In Romania, the initiative to ban gay marriages raised about 3 million signatures…

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