Thousands of people marched in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Saturday to demand equal rights for people of different genders and sexual minorities as concerns grow over a bill to ban discussion of homosexuality and gender reassignment in schools.
Catalin Enescu, 37, appeared among the crowd with his wife and two young daughters, both dressed in rainbow colored dresses.
“This is the first time I am taking part in such a march, but it is important for me to be here because LGBTQ rights are no longer respected,” he said.
Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001, but same-sex couples are still not allowed to marry or enter into a civil relationship.
Activists are worried about a bill proposed by lawmakers from Romania’s Hungarian minority that would ban teaching materials that discuss homosexuality and gender transition in schools.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this year, although it has yet to be put to a vote in the lower house.
The proposal is similar to legislation that came into force last year in neighboring Hungary.
A gay pride parade in Bucharest, Romania was attended by a large number of police. Source: A MONKEY / Vadim Girda / AP
Organizers said 15,000 people turned out to demand equality at Bucharest Pride under close police surveillance.
It comes after about 200 people, several of them brandishing Orthodox icons, responded to a call for a counter-protest by the far-right Noua Dreapta party earlier in the day.
“The fact that pride celebrations are getting bigger and bigger while right-wing groups are getting smaller and smaller is a positive sign,” said Tor-Hyun Olsen of Planned Parenthood International.
“But it’s difficult that we see a lot of proposals in Parliament that restrict LGBT rights and other sexual health issues.”
Protestant and Bucharest University professor Oana Baluta said she feared what would happen if the bill were passed into law in a European country.
“If passed, this bill, which is contrary to the norms of the European Union, will deal a serious blow to freedom of expression and the rights of LGBTQ people,” said Professor Baluta.
Thousands of people took part in a gay parade in the Romanian capital calling for equal rights for the LGBTIQ+ community. Source: A MONKEY / Andrea Alexandru / AP
“That would set a dangerous precedent because then we risk being denied the right to discuss abortion and sex education,” she said.
Romania has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Abortions are legal, but access to them is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Visibility, pride and resilience”: hundreds of thousands of marchers in Madrid
Hundreds of thousands of people waved rainbow flags and danced to techno music at a Pride march in Madrid on Saturday as the event resumed after two years of Covid restrictions.
Demonstrators in the Spanish capital gathered in the late afternoon under a large banner with the slogan “Visibility, Pride and Resilience.”
Some participants carried water pistols and splashed each other to keep warm in the scorching heat. Others went bare-chested and danced to the rhythms of Brazilian and techno music.
The demonstration took place on the streets of Madrid on Saturday under the slogan “Face to face with hatred: visibility, pride and resilience.” Source: A MONKEY / EMILIO NARANJO / EPA
They were joined by several ministers from Spain’s left-wing coalition government, including Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlasca.
“I really missed it, the atmosphere is great. You can see that people really wanted to have fun after there was no “normal” pride for so long,” said teacher Victor Romero Fernandez, 38.
City officials said more than 600,000 people attended the event, which was covered live for the first time by Spanish public broadcaster Televisión Española.
Civil servant Miguel Ángel Alfonso, 44, was pleased to see crowded streets, but said the event should put more emphasis on claiming rights.
“It’s become a big party, platforms have become discotheques and multinationals…it’s big business,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the pride parade in Madrid, the first time since the pandemic, full-scale celebrations have resumed. Source: A MONKEY / LUCA PIERGIOVANNI / EPA
homosexuality was decriminalized in Spain in 1978, three years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Since then, the country has legalized marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.
But the national LGBTIQ+ federation, FELGTBI+, said it was important to make the community “visible”, denouncing the growing “hate speech” in a statement ahead of the march.
FELGTBY+ added that such discourse “undermines the foundations of social harmony, jeopardizing the gains made so far.”
The federation also backed a bill to be debated in parliament this summer that would allow anyone over the age of 16 to change their name and gender on their identity documents at their request.
If the law is passed, Spain will be one of the few countries where gender self-determination is allowed.