Will Romania step up anti-LGBTQ legislation like Hungary?

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08/17/2021

Many Romanians probably do not know what the letters LGBTQ stand for, and this is hardly surprising given that sexual orientation and gender identity have not played a major role in the country’s public debate in recent years. Although a referendum seeking to prevent same-sex marriage from ever being legalized was held in 2018 after being championed by the Romanian Orthodox Church, it failed after only 21% of eligible voters turned up to cast their ballot. Now, an alliance of conservative, right-wing parties is attempting to put the issue at the top of the agenda, campaigning against what they call ‘LGBTQ ideology’ and ‘gay propaganda’. It has drawn inspiration from anti-LGBTQ legislation that recently came into effect in Viktor Orban’s Hungary, which bans ‘LGBT content’ in schools for instance, and conflates pedophilia, homosexuality and transsexuality. Romanians in favor of similar legislation say that minors have to be ‘protected’ from ‘LGBTQ propaganda’ and plan to put forward a bill in parliament. This is a contentious issue in many respects, with ramifications that transcend domestic politics. “The evil is done,” wrote Dan Tapalaga of the independent media outlet G4Media.ro. “Subversive anti-EU narrative has arrived in our mainstream too.” The lawyer and former presidential adviser on national minorities Peter Eckstein-Kovacs told DW that this was “an attempt to include Romania, which so far has been clearly pro-European, in an anti-European, pro-Kremlin alliance.”

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