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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. 

Discussing the homosexuals’ acceptance in the Romanian Orthodox Church, Florin Buhuceanu, a renowned Romanian activist for LGBTQ+ rights says: “we cannot ignore the stigmatizing attitude shown by many Christians, both from the clergy and lay people, which contributes to deepening their [queer individuals] suffering”
He adds: “A bad and distorted information about homosexuality not only feeds the prejudices inside the Orthodox community, but with no doubt infringes upon the 9th commandement of Christ: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”
“Interview with Mr. Florin Buhuceanu, president of the ACCEPT Association" (Interviu cu dl Florin Buhuceanu, presedintele Asociatiei ACCEPT) in the Herald of Orthodoxy, a religious newspaper, 15 June 1999.
In 1999, in The Orthodoxy’s Herald (Vestitorul Ortodoxiei), the monthly magazine of the Romanian Patriarchate, was written: “The Church for which homosexuality is a sin should take a stand in Romanian society” and in another article, “Homosexuality is a fall from normality.”
This respective article also include statements of the such: "When it comes to the Church’s educational role, it should be considered as primordial in society ... They [queer people] try to invade the normal mentality, to annihilate the feeling that this thing [homosexuality] is abominable.”
Homosexuality, under the ROC's logic, was not only a threat to the sanctity of the marriage and family, and consequently to the survival of the nation-state, but more importantly to the authoritative discourse and to the place of the Church in Romanian society and politics.
Context in the Nineties