How Romania became a battleground in the transatlantic backlash against LGBTQ rights

Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001. Today it is witnessing a backlash against LGBTQ rights, supported by U.S Christian conservatives.


“What you have to understand,” says a man in his late 30s, “is the influence of the Orthodox Church. It’s…” he puts down his beer, searching for the word in English. “Mind control.”

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The writer from, Sian Norris, mention of the anti-LGBTQ organisation ‘Coalition for Family’ – a self-described “civic initiative…open to those who share the values of the family” – that provokes a heated conversation.

The Coalition is “awful,” says one woman. “They come up with these crazy excuses against gay marriage – saying if we allow this, then people will be able to marry their dogs.”

In November 2015, the Coalition for Family published a ‘Citizen’s Initiative’ – the first step in a system that allows Romanian citizens to “directly participate in the law-making process.” It demanded that the constitution be changed to define marriage as between a man and woman exclusively (it currently uses the gender-neutral wording ‘two spouses’).

ADF International, the global wing of the controversial U.S legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has also supported the referendum campaign. In April, it co-hosted a “referendum for the family” conference at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest, along with the Coalition for Family.

Photo By אנדר-ויק (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons