June
2008
EDITORIAL
 
Vol. 4 No.5  
 

Gay march sets right example for diversity demos

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Bucharest’s gay march is now an annual event for fascists and liberals to engage in a morality war of pragmatism against tradition.
The 200 or so participants and as many journalists and photographers parade
through the capital’s centre to the Parliament Palace for a couple of hours,
intending to show pride and solidarity with sexual freedom.
This event inspires a peculiar voyeurism in parts of the population, who
condemn it on TV and in the street, but watch the parade of colourful transvestites and normal, boring-looking people, in eager fascination.
The thousands of onlookers include protestors proclaiming the hell-bound
journey of all Sodomites, old women brandishing religious icons of Mary and
Jesus and gangs of young teenage boys in cheap T-shirts and baseball caps,
looking to beat up any stray man wearing eyeliner or tight shorts.
Meanwhile armoured vehicles and over 400 police guard the protestors,
while offi cers keep the march moving fast inside one lane of traffic.
This year one of the policemen, in a cap and bullet-proof jacket, was gently
encouraging the crowd to stay into a solid unit. A little shorter than the other
offi cers, his uniform was too large for him, including a padded vest and trousers with a utility belt holding a clinking truncheon and cans of pepper spray.
Walking in the march next to him was a Nicaraguan girl holding the symbol
of gay pride, a rainbow flag.
“So,” the policeman said in English, turning to the girl. “What do you like
about Romania?”
“Well…er,” she replied. “The people are very friendly.”
“Yes,” he said. “We are a very friendly people.”
“And the country,” she said. “I want to see more of the country.”
“Transylvania is much more pretty than Bucharest.”
“I do get a little tired of the city.”
“The traffic is very bad now,” he said.
“Yes, I’ve noticed.”
“You must go to Castle Peles. It is very beautiful.”
“I will.”
“And the mountains are lovely.”
“I haven’t seen enough of them.”
Then there was a pause.
“So,” the policeman said to the girl. “Do you like house music?”
It is a measure of how far a country has come in 20 years that now, in
central Bucharest, one can overhear a Romanian policeman using English to
chat up a central American girl in a gay parade.
This would not have been a regular occurrence during Ceausescu’s time.
The Bucharest march was lucky this year. Nobody threw any explosives and
no one ‘looking gay’ was beaten up in the Metro.
But there are concerns. In the Republic of Moldova last month, police were accused of allowing rightist groups, allegedly including Romanians, to attack demonstrators travelling to the gay march in Chisinau, an event which was eventually called off. Romania’s Conservative Party has been scoring cheap political points by adopting a position that arguably violates gay rights, while a recent change to Romania’s family code excludes recognising other forms of family outside of the union between a man, woman and child. This potentially undermines EU human rights obligations which Romania has signed up to. All these positions are aided by the Orthodox Church’s vocal stance against homosexuality.
At best, these disagreements will contribute to an informed debate in which
common sense can emerge the victor. But there are fears that the region
will witness more violence. This means countries with a more enlightened view
on the issue, such as Romania, should take the lead in pressuring their neighbours in the east to begin accepting diversity as a matter of policy.

Michael Bird


 
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