The Romanian LGBTQ+ scene is growing or at least it is becoming more and more visible and active. There are some gay communities in the country and the fight for equal rights is ongoing. But it is still a tough, difficult fight as you will see.
Romania is a very traditional and conservative country overall. We have just started “tasting” democracy in 1989, with the fall of our last communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. And while progress has been made, in some areas it was pretty slow.
And I would say that this is the case for the LGBTQ+ communities and how bi or gay people are seen in the country overall. But let’s get in depth with this to see what I mean!
Is Romania a Gay-friendly country?
Unfortunately, Romania overall is not very gay friendly. While most of the Romanians would not openly criticize members of the LGBTQ+ community, many might still consider it strange or unnatural.
While this is valid in the country as a whole, expect people to be more closed-minded in the smaller cities and especially villages.
One of the main reasons why many Romanians are still not ready to accept gay people and their rights is the fact that the country is a highly religious one.
Even the state was often criticized for spending more with the church than they spend on hospitals or schools, for example.
The priests still have a massive influence over the crowds and monstrous things like the People’s Salvation Cathedral are being built.
And since the orthodox religion, by tradition, doesn’t go well hand in hand with accepting homosexuality (among many other things), the people are taught to consider it unnatural and even a sin.
A few years ago, there was even an attempt to modify the country’s constitution to have a definition for the “Traditional family” which was supposed to only exist between a man and a woman.
Over 3 million signatures were gathered for this (out of Romania’s population of 18 million – so many), but fortunately not enough ended up at the booths to vote.
The minimum number of participants wasn’t met (due to a nation-wide boycott) so this didn’t become a law.
But even though the “traditional family” definition didn’t go through, the reality is that many Romanians are not open minded and are still far away from accepting the LGBTQ+ community.
Add to that the rise in popularity of extremist political parties (just like it’s happening throughout Europe) and you will have extra reasons to understand why things aren’t as good as they could be in this regards.
Gay marriages are not accepted or officiated in Romania at the moment, for example.
Trans people have a REALLY difficult time changing their IDs and even the European Court of Human Rights said, back in late 2021, that the country violates the rights trans people because the procedures for changing their IDs are not clear and/or difficult to follow.
But despite all these things, the younger population is more open minded and have a healthy and sane approach to LGBTQ+ members. But even here, there are many bad seeds.
How is life in Romania for gay people?
Now, more than ever, being gay in Romania is not as much frowned upon as it was some 10 or 20 years and more ago.
People in the larger cities are starting to at least accept gay men and women around them, although there’s still a long way to go.
You will rarely, if ever, see men holding hands while walking down the streets, in bars or restaurants. Any sort of public display of affection – even hugs – would start a staring competition and might even result in some sort of verbal abuse.
As you see, I said “men holding hands”. For women, things are a bit easier. It’s not uncommon for girls and women to hold hands, hug and be very close, so they don’t draw too much attention. And generally, they are less frowned upon than men are.
In the 90s and even early 2000s, you would’ve been crazy to come out as gay. Gay people were beaten and abused and up to a degree this still happens in Romania even today.
There are a few more places that are gay-only in Bucharest and apparently in Cluj Napoca – but that’s about it.
The rest of the country doesn’t really offer exclusive places for LGBTQ+ members to spend their time in mingling with others.
There might be some unofficial ones that the communities know about, but unfortunately I am not extremely knowledgeable in this area.
So, in most of the country, being openly gay or even bisexual might still come as a shock. You will draw attention and at the very best just draw some serious stares if you and partner hold hands (and if you are men).
Kissing would probably be considered the ultimate sin in most places in Romania and even though I doubt that people will actually become violent, there’s always this possibility.
Things are changing though
At our son’s Christening party, for example, our son’s Godfather and Godmother (it’s actually something similar, I don’t really know has an English translation) were members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The godfather in particular drew some stares and whispers – he is a trans man, known by most our guests as a woman.
It was an ultimate test – both for himself, as well as the crowd. But everything went well, in the end.
Some of the guests were honestly curious about the situation and seemed to understand it, a very low number hinted at the fact that “it’s not normal” but most people just enjoyed the party.
Many of the younger people we know are open about their sexual preferences and even more are starting to accept it as a fact, without making too much fuss about it.
We’re still a long way from being able to say that Romania is LGBTQ+ friendly, but at least we’re on the right track. I would say that things are very close to the level of friendliness that you would see on average in Europe.
So not extremely bad, although it could definitely be much better.
However, I think that the future looks good and bright and colorful. Even though things are a bit gloomy right now, it’s much better than it was several years ago and I am sure that after a few more years, Romanians will be even more open minded when it comes to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
But right now, Romania is definitely not one of the most gay friendly country in the world.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t visit and enjoy it as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Even though you might draw a stare or two, that would be it. I’m not saying that it’s normal, but at least it’s not much worse.
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