Recently, I have received an email from one of our readers, asking me whether Romania is gay friendly or not. I realized that this is a good topic for an article, so here I am, sharing with you the good and the bad about Romania, how gay friendly it is and how open minded (or not) are the Romanians.

I will start by saying that the Romanian LGBTQ scene is growing, becoming more and more visible and active. There are some gay communities in the country and the fight for equal rights is ongoing.

Unfortunately, Romania overall is not very gay friendly. Most of the Romanians are not necessarily against gay people and would not openly criticize members of the LGBTQ community, but they would consider it strange at least an unnatural. This happens not only in the smaller cities and villages, but also in the larger ones.

Remember that Romania is a highly religious country, where more money are allocated to building churches than hospitals or schools, where priests have a massive influence over the crowds and where monstrous things like the People’s Salvation Church 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 in the country are not able to fully accept it.

There was, recently, a huge campaign from the Church (I am not 100% here that the church started this, but it doesn’t matter much in the end) to support what they call the “traditional family” meaning that they are actually fighting against the state accepting gay relationships and especially gay marriage. Over 3 million signatures were gathered from people demanding that there’s a clear definition of a family in the Constitution – and that’s between a man and a woman. 3 million people are 15% of the country’s population and you can imagine that the numbers of people agreeing with this are actually much larger.

However, despite these worryingly facts – including a recent scandal when the Romanian government refused to accept a married gay couple in the country because Romania doesn’t accept gay marriage (but they were forced to do so by the EU, since the couple was married in the European Union and they should have the same rights in all countries… so, as I was saying, despite these facts and sad truth, younger people are more open minded and have a healthy and sane approach to LGBTQ communities.

Now, more than ever, being gay in Romania is not as much frowned upon. People in the larger cities are starting to accept gay people and even though you will rarely (if ever) see them even holding hands while walking down the streets or even in bars or restaurants, it’s not as bad as it used to be.

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 point 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. Or at least not as far as I know (and I must admit that I don’t know that much)…

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 case just draw some serious stares if you and partner hold hands. Kissing would probably be 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, we decided that of the most important people in his life (something similar to the Godmother and Godfather) to be a trans man and a lesbian. This did drew some stares and whispers from some of the people present at the event, but it didn’t go too bad either. Everybody had a great deal of fun at the party, proving that things are not as bad as they might sound.

So 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 and fully accept gay people. But right now, Romania is definitely not the most gay friendly country in the world.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Like you, Calin, this is a subject where I may not be an authority, but because of certain friends and relatives I have a passing interest. I was pleased to hear a couple of months ago where, under pressure from the European Court of Justice, Romania would be granting marital rights to same-sex couples. Although the process will certainly be very slow, I believe this legal decision will ultimately provide a path that can normalize these relationships in the eyes of the general public. It was less than a year before when the notorious homophobic American zealot Kim Davis made headlines as she trotted about Romania speaking her obsessive hate of gay marriage to anyone who would listen. For those who may not know, Davis was a Kentucky county clerk who had been jailed for failure to fulfill the legal requirements of her job when she refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, citing her personal religious beliefs. It was this dubious honor which provided the notoriety that raised her from a backwater civil servant to national, and ultimately international fame. It seemed, at least as one would read in the press, she found a ready audience in many of the people in deeply religious Romania. However, I don’t think I’ve personally seen anything that would make me wary of inviting my LGBTQ friends for a visit. As at your son’s Christening party, there could definitely be stares and whispers. What I don’t know, though, is whether I could recommend Romania as country in which to emigrate. At least not yet.

    • Great comment, as always! I wasn’t aware about Kim Davis, to be honest, but I am not surprised to hear that she found a crowd here :)Hopefully things will change indeed and recommending the country as a great one to come to, no matter what your race is or your preferences, will be easier in the near future.

  2. Calin:
    GREAT ARTICLE!
    It’s pretty much the same everywhere. People are set in their ways, and
    anything which goes against the grain is either feared or fought.
    It’s true that the younger generations are more accepting, and as the older (moi) generation passes, things will get better for the LGTBQ community.
    I would imagine abortion is a no-no in Romania, too. I believe in a woman’s right, but I know this is a hot-button issue everywhere.
    If I were you, I’d sell your cottage, and try to get more money than you paid. I bet all the fruit was nicked again, too.;-)
    Again–great, well-written post!
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Teil, strangely, abortion is not as frowned upon in the country. It is actually legal and ladies can go to a doctor to get an abortion easily. Strangely, the people living in the villages don’t consider it as a sin – as they do with other things. I hadn’t thought about how strange this is, but you’ve opened my eyes on the matter 🙂

      Regarding the cottage – selling it for what we paid – even though it was extremely low by Western standards, would be probably impossible. Everybody is running away from the villages and properties there are extremely cheap and spend ages on the market…

  3. The culture in Romania is so different than in the U.S. that when I am in Romania something always surprises me. For example I have often seen grown women walking hand in hand in Romania. I perceived it was a mother and her adult daughter. In the U.S. I do not see this although I see gay women holding hands infrequently. This is not common except in some locales. Then there is the kissing “thing”. I am still adjusting to kissing my male relatives when we meet. 🙂

    • Haha, yeah, kissing and hugging is the norm here, as well as ladies holding hands. When I was in school and during my college years, whenever two girls met, they had to kiss and hug. I’m not sure if this is still done today, tough. Things would be a bit different if it were males holding hands and kissing, though…

  4. Great post C! I’m not surprised at the attitude of the people there. It’s the same as in Nigeria. All these religious nut jobs and their beliefs. I’ve been around gay people ever since l moved to the States. It’s been interesting to say the least watching how people react. My best friend’s parents were the most homophobic people ever and were so critical. They had to face some ugly truths about themselves when my friend finally told them he was gay. Live and let live is my motto. Take care of your own shit and stop poking around other peoples lives 🙂

    • Exactly! There are so many other things to worry about anyway. If everybody would understand this, life would be so much easier and pleasant. But hopefully time will heal all these wounds and open the eyes that have to be opened…

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.