Emergence from the Moldovan ‘Closet’ is difficult and risky
In a post-communist country, where some people have a quite conservative viewpoint it is quite difficult to “come out of the closet.” The small Eastern European Republic of Moldova is presently looking forward to joining the European Union one day. The acquis communautaire has yet to be implemented, but Moldova backs off from implementing the first requirement of the criteria which refers to ensuring “the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights including respect for and protection of minorities.”
In February 2011 the Moldovan Government tried to make a step forward and initiated the anti-discrimination bill, which later did not pass the Parliament amid massive protests of the Christian churches and some social movements. The bill turned controversial although it failed to pass the Legislative body. Currently, the Moldovan Constitution does not expressly state that people who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community are subject to protection under the Moldovan law.
Roman, a 25-year-old man from Moldova says that the community he lives in feels threatened by homosexuals.
“The majority feels threatened by gay people as they are not aware about this social minority, they lack knowledge about our lifestyle and they respond with oppression, bullying and harassment. As we don't have any kind of support from our society, most of gay people choose to live a double life and to hide real feelings from the outside world,” said Roman, who is a member of the LGBT community from Moldova.
The man explains that the idea of coming out in Moldova can be risky. He got out the closet “step by step, from friend to friend.”
“Being publicly out is not the best thing in Moldova, as the first reaction when meeting new people can involve being treated with disrespect and meeting with rejection.” Roman adds that he came out to people that he trusted and who would understand him and be supportive.
“They were initially shocked as they hadn't suspected anything, but later on our friendship became stronger and totally open. After coming out publicly, I felt that many people with whom I used to work or interact, showed a change of attitude toward me, and our relationship became more distant than it was before,” explains Roman.
According to him, the personal life of a LGBT community member from Moldova takes place mostly behind closed doors “as our society is not ready to accept and tolerate different kinds of love and relationships.”
Angela Frolov, the Lobby and Advocacy Program Coordinator of GENDERDOC-M Information Center from Moldova, says that over 2,000 homosexuals benefit from the services provided by the center. According to her, citing international statistics, roughly 5% of the population of Moldova is gay, lesbian or bisexual.
„Hate and intolerance that prevails within the society is the main issue and is due to a lack of education and the stereotypes which have been imposed since childhood. That’s why LGBT persons prefer to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity secret, which requires them to live a double life,” said Angela Frolov.
She explains that we live in a vicious circle where the attitude towards homosexuals never changes because we “don’t actually realize that we already know such people and we really love them, while the homosexual people continue to live with the fear of being rejected and hated.”
“Examples of homophobia can be seen everywhere; it is enough to discover comments in each story we read about homosexuals. We have some groups which are extremely homophobic and use hatred statements and often revert to violence on a regular basis,” stated Ms. Frolov.
Representatives of many Moldovan churches condemn homosexuality.
„Homosexuality severely affects the moral and physical integrity of humans and is a sin which can be learned. Being promoted, it chains men and women both in this life and life thereafter.” said Pastor Vasile Filat.
According to Filat, the sexual life is an intimate and private feature of every human and the Constitution protects the intimate life.
„Most of the activities of gay and pro-gay organizations from Moldova promote or encourage the deviant sexual behavior and strive to introduce it to the community as normality,” stated the Pastor of `Bunavestirea` Baptist Church from Moldova.
Some recent regulations introduced by the City Council of Balti, the administration from Anenii-Noi county, as well as villages of Chetris and Hiliuti, are designed to ban any future public demonstrations of the LGBT community. These regulations elicited adverse reactions. Amnesty International Moldova immediately expressed its discontent opposition to the regulation.
„The Moldovan government should reverse a move by four local councils effectively to ban outright demonstrations by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people,” urged Amnesty International in a press release.
According to the international organization, the Balti City Council proclaimed exclusive support for the Orthodox Church and banned “aggressive propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.”
“In effect, these decisions are inscribing into law discrimination against LGBTI people and they stoke up a climate of hostility,” explained John Dalhuisen, Deputy Programme Director of the Europe and Central Asia Programme.
Some of the LGBT community members who marched in a 2008 Gay Pride parade were physically assaulted by anti-demonstrators. Another attempt to organize a Gay Pride event was banned by a court decision in 2010.
The United Nations Mission to Moldova states that such actions do not comply with the international agreements and treaties.
“Banning public assemblies or otherwise issuing discriminatory ordinances violates international law. This includes bans on LGBT persons or groups, as well as bans on religious minorities,” said Claude Cahn, the Human Rights Adviser of the UN Office to Moldova.
He explains that Moldovan civil society has a significant role as regards human rights, but the primary obligation of action is on state officials.
“The government should condemn these recent manifestations of disrespect for the equal dignity of all people. Also, if ever there was evidence for the need for a comprehensive and effective anti-discrimination law, these new acts would seem to emphasize the urgent need for such a law,” concluded Mr. Cahn.
Angela Frolov said that any citizen has the right to protest if they do not agree with something.
“Such a right lacks our organization the right to a peaceful assembly to ask for equality and non-discrimination,” said the representative of GENDERDOC-M Center. She also stated that the Balti City Council’s decision does not comply with the current Moldovan legislation and if the administration of Balti will not withdraw the decision, they will make an appeal against it in Court.
Pastor Vasile Filat welcomes the decision taken by the Balti City Council saying that “their concern is absolutely right because the homosexual propaganda became abusive in the past years.” He continues by saying that the homosexual activists of the Western countries are making abuse of democracy and legislation.
In this harsh environment of rejection the gay people of Moldova must continue to their efforts to demand respect for their rights as citizens of the country.
“I would suggest to our society always to inform themselves from all sources available and treat this issue with an open mind and to regard all possible alternatives as a potential solutions. We shall not discriminate on the base of color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. and we shall respect each other and treat equally, as we are all citizens of the same country,” concluded Roman, a gay man from Moldova.