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 LGBTQ 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. But it is a tough, difficult fight as you will see.
Unfortunately, Romania overall is not very gay friendly. While most of the Romanians would not openly criticize members of the LGBTQ community, they would still consider it strange or unnatural. This happens throughout the country, but expect people to be more and more closed-minded in the smaller cities and 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.
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 from people demanding that there’s a clear definition of a family in the Constitution – and nothing else is accepted.
Fortunately, not enough people ended up voting for this – a minimum number of participants wasn’t met. It was a real, one of its kind campaign back then NOT to go to vote.
But even though the “traditional family” definition didn’t go through, the reality is that many Romanians are far from being considered gay or LGBTQ friendly.
However, despite these worryingly facts – including a relatively recent scandal when the Romanian government refused to accept a married gay couple in the country because Romania doesn’t recognize 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 all these happenings and facts, the younger population is more open minded and have a healthy and sane approach to LGBTQ members. But even here, there are many bad examples.
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 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 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.
So we could say 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.