Next steps in Activism
Romania remains plagued by the highly influencial conservative power of the Orthodox Church, which has equal influence within the state apparatus. Such conditions make it evermore difficult for local queer voices to rise up and break the silence by creating new representational narratives. For the Romanian Orthodox Church, understanding sexuality will always happen through the prism of a productive/reproductive social order. Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania's second and last communist leader of Romania from 1965 to 1989, implement harsh pro-reproductive policies, which not only helped instill Art. 200 P.C. but also considered oral or anal sex among married heterosexuals to be punishable as perverse and aberrant acts.
Nevertheless, by letting local queer voices shine through and giving them their deserved space to speak of their disappointments, worries, experiences, hopes, and dreams we engage in direct advocacy for the community and their history.
In Romania, and in Eastern Europe more broadly, civil society is a structure that can lobby without necessarily engaging with power players to promote their agenda free of EU expectations and biases. Funding largely relies on being able to identify a subject group and claiming it, which implies homogenizing in some ways groups that are diverse and dynamic. Woodcock (2009) identifies the paradox between needing money to undertake initiatives for the community while perharps, involuntarily, engaging in 'imitation activism' that mimic Western queer liberation, rather than inform advocacy in local history and reality.
Limits of Legal Change
Despite the legislative changes at the beginning of the 2000s, members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to be deprived of full citizenship in Romania, and are consequently viewed as individuals deemed unworthy of equal rights, i.e., the recognition of non-heterosexual partnerships deprives them of security and legitimacy under the law. In 2009, Article 258 of the Romanian Civil Code was amended to clearly define marriage as the “union between a man and a woman. The Romanian state and its policies are still informed by the post-socialist national discourse that venerates the heterosexual couple at the expense of other types of unions that are being denied their human rights. At the beginning of 2021, Romania was found guilty by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for transgender rights violations. Since the Romanian government and system of justice have failed to integrate effective means to foster tolerance of difference among the citizenry, they remain pushed to change by international organization and institutions.
Same-Sex Couples Keep Fighting for their Human Rights
In the context of the class action lawsuit at the ECHR against Romania, ACCEPT, the most longstanding LGBTQ+ NGO in Romania has launched an awareness campaign regarding the daily lives of same-sex couples. These videos are meant to sensitize the homophobic majority in favour of same-sex couples obtaining civil partnership to get the same rights as any other Romanian couple.
To finish with Adrian Newell Paun, without whose work and dedication to the memory of LGBTQ+ lives this paper could not have been written; he discusses the post-Article 200 generation’s new attitude and ideas and asserts what needs to be done for the community to be successful: “I hope that this community will be united, in its own right, and that it will be able to produce culture, to produce social influence, to produce its own politicians. […] The cultural aspect is crucial in contemporary activism. Culture educates and by doing so, produces a solid change of mentality. […] Respect comes from education. We have to generate more and more culture: movies, documentaries, books, everything. This is our future."