TV & Radio
Bucharest Daily News 2006/06/05
Gay Parade again marred by violence
Over 500 gay rights activists pleaded for civil partnership legalization and an end to discrimination, during the Gay Parade on Saturday amid jeers and anti-gay protests bordering on violence.
As the designated hour for the beginning of the march drew nearer, the atmosphere grew more and more tense. Remarks such as "We are not homosexuals, we are real men" coming from groups of people gathering for anti-gay protests could be heard, while a massive police barricade flanked the street. Officers on horseback and in cars together with gendarmes positioned every ten meters showed the police had prepared for the worst.
Romanian and foreign gay rights activists, as well as supporters of their cause, carrying colored balloons and a 200-meter long rainbow flag -- a symbol for harmony and diversity which has been the banner for other gay pride parades organized all over the world -- began their march on Unirii Boulevard and reached Unirii Square in a relatively short period of time. The procession, shouting "We Love You!" and "Homophobia - the Worst Disease," was headed by Romanita Iordache, the president of the Accept Association, Florin Buhuceanu, executive manager of Accept, Diane Fisher, bishop at the Metopolitan Community Church, and Romanian Princess Briana Caradja, who had come to support the march.
The first incidents took place about five minutes after the march commenced, when people from the balconies of the blocks on Unirii Boulevard started throwing eggs and stones at the participants. One of the most severe altercations occurred close to Unirea Shopping Center when about 60 people tried to break through the police barricade to attack the marchers. After being stopped by the police, they centered their fury on the security forces instead, throwing stones at them, which led to 50 people being detained.
All in all, the parade lasted roughly two and a half hours, as the marchers continued on to Constitutiei Square, where they were met by another wave of protesters, Libertatii Boulevard and Natiunile Unite Boulevard. The march came to an end in the proximity of Izvor Park, where the participants dispersed under the surveillance of the police, some of them taking the subway while others went home by cab.
Londoner Eirwen Edwards, 37, and Anne Matthews, 46, were among the gay-rights activists participating in the march. "I wanted to support it. I am interested to see what the situation in this country is and had some interesting conversations with people along the way," said Edwards, who was in a wheelchair pushed by her partner, as she is only able to walk short distances. She said "an accident" prevents her from returning completely to her previous way of life. "When I was last in Romania, homosexuality was illegal. Now it's different, but it is still a tense situation. The atmosphere within the march was great, but unfortunately the atmosphere was very aggressive."
Even while they gave statements to Bucharest Daily News, a group of people nearby were looking in a strange, curious manner, prompting both them and BDN reporters to head for safer surroundings. "Within a few years, maybe not," said Edwards when asked her opinion about whether civil partnerships are likely to be legalized in Romania in the near future. "But also I think because of gay pride movements elsewhere, there is that foundation that Romania can join into, so it might not take as long, especially with Romania entering the European Union." Having been with Anne Matthews for three years, the couple declared that in their case marriage is not an option, particularly since they have another partner in England.
Once the gay-rights activists had exited the tightly secured perimeter and started heading off to their various homes, violence could no longer be contained. Six participants of the Gay Parade, among which two were foreign citizens (an Italian and a Spaniard) and two girls, were attacked and beaten between the Izvor and Piata Unirii subway stations. One of the victims told the Mediafax news agency that their attackers were a group of young people aged 20 to 25 and none of the passengers on the train intervened in the scuffle. "We got on the subway at Izvor station and it did not take three minutes before they rushed upon us. There were about six or seven of them. ... They held onto the upper bars with their hands and kicked us with their feet in the head and the shoulders, wherever they could," stated one of the victims for the Mediafax press agency. A photographer who was nearby managed to take some pictures, but he too was hit by one of the aggressors. According to the victims, all this happened without any of the other passengers intervening, all the passengers in the proximity moving to the other side of the wagon. "One of the girls called to them for help. She said "You are people too, how can you not say anything?" but nobody reacted," said the victim. According to the Accept executive manager, Florin Buhuceanu, the victims will submit complaints at the police and the association will grant them legal assistance. "It is sad that it comes to such manifestations against people who exercise rights in a democratic fashion as the Constitution allows," said Buhuceanu for the Mediafax News Agency with reference to the event.
The Gay Parade took place under the sign of tolerance and diversity, being part of the GayFest event, which covered an entire week of debates, movie projections and theater plays focusing on the situation of the gay community. About six hours before, a counter- manifestation organized by the New Right Christian Forum took place for the promotion of traditional family values and "normality." The Right Wing denied any involvement in the incidents during the Gay Parade and the president of the organization, Tudor Ionescu, warned they would sue those who unjustly accuse the organization. Earlier this week, the Romanian Orthodox Church, to which about 80 percent of the Romanians are affiliated, labeled the gay parade as an "attack against the morality of public life, the sacred institution of family and endangering the formation of the young generation," condemning the local authorities for authorizing the march. Last year, Bucharest City Hall gave the green light to the march only after the intervention of President Traian Basescu and Justice Minister Monica Macovei, also prompting the discontent of the Council Against Discrimination.
Last Updated: Sunday, 4 June 2006, 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK
Clashes mark Romanian gay pride
Police used teargas and batons against the protesters
Militant protesters trying to break up a gay rights march in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, have clashed with riot police who made dozens of arrests.
Ten people were reportedly injured in the violence at the GayFest event which saw hundreds of gay rights activists marching against discrimination.
They were also calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
Hundreds of protesters turned out, some throwing eggs, stones and plastic bottles at the marchers.
Correspondents point out that homosexuality is legal in Romania but the public largely accepts the majority Orthodox Christian Church's view that it is a sin.
"Romania does not need you," was one chant heard among the protesters who included Orthodox nuns and a priest brandishing crosses.
Earlier, Bishop Ciprian Campineanu told a televised meeting that the Bucharest march was "an outrage to morality and to the family".
In pictures: Bucharest march
Reuters news agency reports that protesters were injured when they clashed with the police, who fired teargas and used batons to hold them at bay.
Gay people from Spain, Britain and Serbia also attended the march, the Associated Press reports.
Ed Rekosh, a US human rights lawyer who attended the march with his wife, said he believed homosexuals should have the same marital rights as heterosexuals.
"If they love each other they should have the same rights as others who love each other," he said.
Homosexuality was fully decriminalised in Romania in 2001 after partial decriminalisation in the 1990s.
The first Bucharest GayFest march took place in 2005 after an initial ban was overturned.
Romanian anti-gay protesters clash with police
Sat 3 Jun 2006 3:55 PM ET
BUCHAREST, June 3 (Reuters) - Ten people were injured and dozens detained when militant protesters trying to break up a gay rights march clashed with riot police in the Romanian capital on Saturday, police said.
Hundreds of activists marched through downtown Bucharest to protest against discrimination in the largely conservative society and call for the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
But the parade was disrupted by more than a thousand protesters, who threw eggs, stones and plastic bottles at the activists, who were shielded by police in trucks.
Some protesters, including Orthodox nuns and a priest, carried crosses and chanted "Romania does not need you". Some protesters clashed with police, who fired tear gas and used batons to hold them at bay. They detained 51 people. "Romania has problems with accepting any minorities," Octav Popescu, one of the parade organisers told Realitatea TV.
Homosexuality is legal in Romania, which hopes to join the European Union in 2007, but the public largely accepts the powerful Orthodox church's view that it is a sin and a disease.