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Romania: The situation and treatment of homosexual men and lesbians since the repeal of Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code, including the state protection available to them; whether or not there are reports of police abusing, arresting and detaining them and trying to obtain the names of other homosexual men and women; and the type of assistance homosexual men and women can expect if they complain to the police about abuse from skinheads and nationalists

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 12 September 2002
Citation / Document Symbol ROM39955.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Romania: The situation and treatment of homosexual men and lesbians since the repeal of Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code, including the state protection available to them; whether or not there are reports of police abusing, arresting and detaining them and trying to obtain the names of other homosexual men and women; and the type of assistance homosexual men and women can expect if they complain to the police about abuse from skinheads and nationalists, 12 September 2002, ROM39955.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f7d4e0b2a.html [accessed 31 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

This Response provides additional but limited information to Response to Information Request ROM39602.E of 30 July 2002 on the treatment of homosexuals by Romanian society and the police response to complaints made by homosexuals.

Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code contained measures against homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexuals, among other provisions (ILGA-Europe 4 Feb. 2002; ibid. Feb. 2002, 9; IHFHR 2002; AI 2002).

In June 2001 the Romanian government issued an emergency ordinance that abrogated Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code, thereby decriminalising same-sex relations (IHFHR 2002; ILGA-Europe 4 Feb. 2002; AI 2002; HRW Dec. 2001). Sources claim that pressure from the European Union (EU) contributed greatly to this development as a step towards Romanian membership in the EU (ILGA-Europe 4 Feb. 2002; ibid. Feb. 2002, 9; Ziua 25 Mar. 2002; IHFHR 2002). As a result of this emergency ordinance, the use of Article 200 was immediately suspended in the courts (ILGA-Europe Feb. 2002, 9; ibid. 4 Feb. 2002), but it remained subject to parliamentary and presidential approval (ibid.). On 18 and 20 December 2001 the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate respectively adopted Government Emergency Ordinance no. 89 of 21 June 2001 (ibid.; ibid. Feb. 2002, 9; IHFHR 2002), thereby endorsing the suspension of Article 200 (ILGA-Europe Feb. 2002, 9). On 14 January 2002 presidential approval was given (ibid. 4 Feb. 2002) and on 31 January 2002 the repeal of Article 200 of the Romanian Penal Code was published in the Official Journal of Romania (ibid. Feb. 2002, 9). On 2 February 2002 the repeal was publicly announced (ibid. 4 Feb. 2002).

Very limited information on the general situation and treatment of homosexual men and women since the repeal could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Several days after the December 2001 endorsement of the suspension of Article 200, journalist Shirin Wheeler reported from Bucharest that the capital's newest nightclub, Heaven, had opened in November 2001 "without fear of persecution" and had become the 'hot spot' for "Romania's increasingly confident gay community" (BBC 20 Dec. 2001). Even though the club's clientele was happy about the Article's repeal, Wheeler reported on BBC News that on-the-spot interviews with passers-by suggested that the repeal had not met with universal public approval (20 Dec. 2001). One passer-by reportedly referred to homosexuals as "scum," another stated the repeal would "destroy the family" while a third stated that although it was "a good thing for society, morally it is not good because we are Christians" (ibid.). The Orthodox Church remains a powerful influence in Romania (ibid.).

More recently, Dan Pavel stated in a 25 March 2002 editorial in the Bucharest-based daily newspaper Ziua, that "hostile attitudes toward sexual minorities can still be perceived in public." However, Pavel provided neither additional information nor examples to support this statement.

Reports of police mistreatment of homosexual men and women since the repeal of Article 200 could not be found among the sources consulted.

The United States Department of State's 4 March 2002 Country Reports 2001 states that "gays and lesbians continued to face police harassment," but the example provided dates from December 2000 (sec.1c).

Country Reports 2001 and Amnesty International's Annual Report 2001 discuss the increase in incidents of the general misuse of power by the police and police abuse towards civilians in Romania (4 Mar. 2002, sec. 1; AI 2002; Mediafax 29 May 2002). In late May 2002, police and justice representatives stated that investigations would be made into Amnesty International's allegations of police abuses (Rompres 30 May 2002). On 19 June 2002, as a result of the Amnesty International report, the State Secretary of the Interior Ministry, General Pavel Abraham stated that 35 to 40 per cent of the 434 police-men under investigation by the Military Prosecuting Magistracy in 2001 (170 policemen) had been accused of "verbal or physical abuse during investigations" (Evenimentul Zilei 19 June 2002). Corroboration of this latter statement could not be found among the sources consulted.

No information could be found on the state protection available to homosexual men and lesbians, or on the police response to complaints from homosexual men and lesbians about mistreatment by skinheads or nationalists. However, the following information may be of general interest.

In August or September 2000 the Romanian government adopted Ordinance 137/2000 on the prevention of and punishment for all forms of discrimination, including sexual orientation (ILGA-Europe Feb. 2002, 9; EUMAP 17 Jan. 2002). The ordinance provided for the establishment by November 2000 of an enforcement body to be known as the "National Council for Combating Discrimination" (ibid.; Country Reports 2001 4 Mar. 2002, sec. 5), which was to "function through policy recommendation as well as the imposition of penalties" (EUMAP 17 Jan. 2002). In her 17 January 2002 EUMAP article, Renate Weber questioned the legal status of the ordinance because it had never been approved by parliament, according to Romania's constitutional procedures (ibid.). Only in mid-December 2001 did the Romanian parliament "fully approve and enact" the August 2000-issued ordinance on discrimination (ILGA-Europe Feb. 2002, 9; ibid. 4 Feb. 2002). Country Reports 2001 stated that although the Council of Deputies and the Senate had passed the ordinance, the Chamber had amended it, and by the end of 2001, both versions had not been reconciled (4 Mar. 2002, sec. 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 2002. Amnesty International Report 2002. [Accessed 9 Sept. 2002]

BBC. 20 December 2001. Shirin Wheeler. "Romania's Gays Celebrate End of Ban." [Accessed 5 Sept. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Right Practices for 2001. 4 March 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Publishing Office.

EUMAP, Human Rights in Europe. 17 January 2002. Renate Weber. The Limits of the Law: The Romanian Approach to Human Rights. [Accessed 6 Sept. 2002]

The EU Accession Monitoring Program monitors compliance with aspects of the Copenhagen political criteria for accession. It promotes human rights and democracy, its monitoring focuses on minority rights, the judiciary, corruption and equal opportunities for women and men.

Evenimentul Zilei [Bucharest, in Romanian]. 19 June 2002. "Romanian Interior Ministry Official Says 170 Police Accused of Violence Last Year." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0619/WNC) [Accessed 9 Sept. 2002]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). December 2001. Human Rights Watch World Report 2002. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights" [Accessed 6 Sept. 2002]

ILGA-Europe [Brussels]. 4 February 2002. "Repeal of Laws Criminalising Same-Sex Relationships in Romania Steps Up Pressure for Repeal of Discriminatory Laws in Cyprus, Hungary and Bulgaria." [Accessed 10 Sept. 2002]

_____. February 2002. Newsletter. Vol. 2, No. 1. Kurt Krickler. "EU Enlargement: Romania Repeals Anti-Gay Law." [Accessed 5 Sept. 2002]

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHFHR), Vienna. 2002. Annual Report 2002. [Accessed 9 Sept. 2002]

Mediafax [Bucharest, in English]. 29 May 2002. "Romania to Investigate Accusations Included in Amnesty International Report." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0529/WNC)

FBIS describes it as a privately-owned press agency.

Rompres [Bucharest, in English]. 30 May 2002. "Ruling Party in Romania Rejects Amnesty International Critical Report." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0530/WNC)

FBIS describes it as a government press agency

Ziua [Bucharest, in Romanian]. 25 March 2002. Dan Pavel. "Romania: Editorial Views Discrimination, Plight of Minorities in Romania." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0325/WNC) [Accessed 6 Sept. 2002]

FBIS describes it as "popular, privately-owned daily; generally critical of the political establishment across the board."

Additional Sources Consulted

British Home Office. April 2002. Romania Country Report.

Resource Centre. "Romania country file." January 2002-present.

US Department of State. December 2001. Background Note: Romania.

WIN News. Quarterly. Spring 2002, Summer 2002.

Electronic Databases: SHARENet, NEXIS, WNC.

Internet sites, including

Amnesty International

Council of Europe

Human Rights in Europe

The International Lesbian and Gay Association

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Interpol

Romanian Action for Gays-Lesbians-Bisexuals Homepage

Sodomylaws

UNHCR

Internet search engines, including

Alltheweb

Fast

Google

Metacrawler

Overture

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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