Homosexual rights in Romania

Doc. 7522
12 April 1996

REPLY from the Committee of Ministers
to Written Question No. 364
by Mr van der MAELEN
on homosexual rights in Romania

I.          Written Question No. 364 (26 January 1996, Doc. 7477)

            In its Recommendation 924 (1981), the Parliamentary Assembly asked the Committee of Ministers to call upon members states where homosexual acts between consenting adults were subject to prosecution to abolish such laws and practices and apply the same age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual acts alike.

            In its Opinion No. 176 (1993) on Romania's request for membership of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly asked Romania to amend its legislation so that Article 2000 of the Penal Code would no longer consider homosexual relations in private between consenting adults as an offence.

            The Romanian Chamber of Representatives has passed a law legalising homosexuality unless it provokes a public scandal, in which case it is punishable with 5 years' imprisonment. Under Romanian law the notion of "public scandal" has the meaning of "any act known to more than two persons who disapprove thereof." According to the Bucharest Acceptance Group, a Romanian homosexual association, the legal status of homosexuals has been altered, in appearance only, just to please the Council of Europe. In practice, the plight of homosexuals has not changed and they are still unable to be open in their public or political lives. Moreover, under Romanian law, any form of association or publicity relating to homosexuality is punishable with a long prison sentence.

            Mr van der MAELEN,

            To ask the Committee of Ministers,

            What it intends to do so that Romania will end discrimination against homosexuals and comply with the European Convention on Human Rights which it has signed.

II.        Reply from the Committee of Ministers (3 April 1996)

1.         The Committee of Ministers has taken note of Written Question No. 364 formulated by the Honourable Member of the Parliamentary Assembly.

2.         The Committee of Ministers wishes to point out at the outset that the Bicameral Romanian Parliament has not adopted the Criminal Code reform bill to which Question No. 364 refers.  It has been made aware of the fact that the Romanian Government is about to finalise a new Criminal Code reform bill. This revised bill which the Romanian Government will shortly be putting before Parliament will not treat as a criminal offence homosexual acts in private between consenting adults and its definition of acts punishable as criminal offences will replace the "public scandal" notion - to which the question alludes - by that of "commission in public".

3.         It should further be pointed out that in July 1994 the Romanian Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional Article 200 paragraph 1 of the current Criminal Code, on punishment of homosexual acts. Pending the reform of the legislation in force, all persons concerned now have the right to invoke this decision of the Constitutional Court before the courts of justice.  According to the information which the Romanian authorities have given the Committee of Ministers, this has entailed that in practice the provisions of the Criminal Code in the field of homosexuality are no longer applied, no-one having been convicted under the above-mentioned provision since July 1994.

4.         Lastly the Committee of Ministers would point out that Romania is a Party to the European Convention of Human Rights since 20 June 1994 and that, under the Romanian Constitution, international human-rights law prevails over the provisions of domestic law.  Romania having made the declarations provided for in Articles 25 and 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights, anyone claiming to be the victim of a violation of the Convention, as interpreted by the Court more particularly in the Norris, Dudgeon and Modinos cases, is entitled to lodge a complaint before the organs set up by the Convention.