Gay teens assaulted and fined by police in Romania

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Even though homosexuality is fully legal and protected under anti-discrimination laws, homophobia and violence against LGBT people remains widespread in Romania and is seldom investigated

Two gay teens were fined and assaulted by police on 27 July at around 23:30 after cuddling, holding hands and kissing in a public park in Bucharest, Romania. According to their report, the two were subject to humiliation and physical assault by the officers and park guardians, who had approached them on the pretext of checking their identification cards. After beating up the two, one of the officers allegedly said that, "I should tie you up with chains and fuck you until you are cured of your sickness". The two teens were each fined 500 lei (approximately 140 or USD179) for "disturbing the public peace", the other alternative being a criminal record for the same offence. They consider this charge to be ungrounded and an act of discrimination against sexual orientation, considering that a heterosexual couple were not prosecuted for engaging in similar acts a few metres away. One of the teens stated that:

I will never forget the hypocrisy with which they said they only wanted to see our ID’s, that they were only doing their job, when at 10 metres distance, a girl and a boy were having sex in the bushes.

Additionally, the police officers threatened the teens that they would beat them again, with "no witnesses", when they were off duty.

Homosexuality, including public manifestations of it, was decriminalised in Romania in 2001, when Article 200 of the Penal Code was fully repealed. Since 2000, the country has an anti-discrimination law which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, despite this, social attitudes remain conservative and discrimination remains widespread and rarely reported and investigated, with the 2006 Bucharest GayFest, held in early June, provoking a violent reaction from many passers-by, even if it took place successfully due to heavy police protection. Gay rights organisations have also complained that when the anti-discrimination law is applied, fines are too low (the average fine for an employer discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is about 300 lei, or less than €100 or $128).