Context in the Nineties
The overthrow of Ceaușescu’s dictatorship in 1989, the political transition to democracy, and accession to the European Union (EU) in 2007 gave many Romanians hope of a better life. However, while a majority experienced a relative improvement in living standards and the freedoms of expression and mobility, minorities continued to feel though their concerns were not being addressed. Consequently, many grew disillusioned with the promises of European values of inclusion and diversity. As one of these marginalized social groups, LGBTQ+ individuals continued to suffer from a lack of community which perpetuated their longstanding feelings of loneliness, desperation, and alienation, further fueled by widespread sensationalism, tabloidization, and hyper-sexualization by mass media.
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual worries, anxieties, and disappointments demonstrate how they were persistently excluded from the prototypical post-socialist Romanian identity and continued to navigate a repressive space dominated by Christian Orthodox values.
Article 200 of the Penal Code (Art. 200 P.C.) was in vigour in the nineties. The collapse of Communism had not meant the end of the criminalization of homosexuality. This would only come with the abrogation of Art. 200 P.C. in 2001, under pressure from the EU for Romania to comply by European standards of human rights and minority rights.
In the context of the nineties, two discourses concerning Romanian post-socialist national identity collided: the first, informed by the Romanian Orthodox Church, which had sufficient power to influence bureaucratic policies; and the second, by secular groups that supported the EU’s minority rights and challenged the Church’s political prominence.
The long criminalization had an immense impact on silencing queer voices and in limiting or removing possibilities of action, determination, and representation for the community. The development of activism within and outside NGO groups was equally impacted by the legacy of oppression and silencing of queer experience.