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A long fight for gay rights in Romania

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For ten years, a law on the equality of homosexual and heterosexual couples has been floating on thin ice in Romania. But Victor and Florin resort to extreme means—a lawsuit against the Romanian state.

Victor and Florin have been a couple for almost five years. Until recently, hardly anyone in their hometown Bucharest, knew about them. But they soon decided to step out of anonymity. "We have to be noticed. We have to fight for our rights. And we can't hide in our own home town. We have to convince the Romanians that we belong to society," says Florin.

Exclusion of sexual minorities from daily activities, constitutes everyday life in Romania. Though since 2002 homosexuality has no longer been a punishable offence, to this day, same-sex couples have no opportunity to register their partnership. In the meantime, 16 EU countries, allow same-sex marriages to take place.

Romanian members of the Social Democratic ruling party are playing for time. They had already announced that they would bring about legalisation of same-sex marriages. But for a decade now, the announcements have remained empty promises.

Moreover, 85 percent of the Romanian population belongs to the Orthodox Church and in the country, the word of the priest still has weight. When a referendum calling for equality between laws for homosexual and heterosexual couples was held, the church rallied against it.

Today the tolerance towards same-sex couples continues to be low. But Florin and Victor want to take action against the current passivity. "We can't fight endless battles in this country. There are so many areas of life where we don't get protection from the state," says Florin.

Both Florin and Victor have raised a class action suit against the Romanian state and currently face a year-long trial before the European Court of Human Rights.

Video credits: Luis Nicolas

Read also : Map of the week : LGBT rights in Europe

Story by

Luis Nicolas

Journalist for German TV WDR and Euronews Video artist and photographer Former Master student at Sciences Po Paris and BA in Berlin, Humboldt University