ECHR condemns Romania for failing to prosecute after anti-LGBT attack


People take part in the Bucharest Pride, an event celebrating diversity and LGBT community in Bucharest on 25 June 2016. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned authorities in Romania for failing to prosecute the perpetrators involved in a horrific anti-LGBT+ incident.

In February 2013, around 50 protestors invaded a cinema in Bucharest, Romania which was screening the LGBT+ film The Kids Are All Right, according to AFP. The event was organised by LGBT+ rights advocacy group ACCEPT.

But protestors stormed the venue and shouted “death to homosexuals” as well as homophobic slurs at people in the cinema. It was also alleged that the protestors were carrying far-right flags and symbols.

An investigation into the incident was closed on 14 October 2014, which described the attack as an “exchange of views”. Another investigation into whether the perpetrators displayed “fascist symbols” in public was discontinued in August 2017.

The ECHR ruled on Tuesday (1 June) that Romanian police “failed to prevent the homophobic slurs” and “ensure that the event could take place, despite adequate presence at the scene”. It also concluded the authorities “failed to offer adequate protection” to the applicants and to “effectively investigate the real nature of the homophobic abuse directed against them”.

“The authorities thus discriminated against the applicants on the grounds of their sexual orientation,” the court ruled.

The ECHR described the police’s actions that night as less than adequate. It said the Romanian police “entered the room, confiscated some flags and left” – “despite being asked to remain”.

The court also found that “several complaints” by ACCEPT and five Romanian nationals “to the courts were in vain”. And overall, there were no indictments brought against the perpetrators.

The ruling added that the relevant police reports about the incident “do not mention homophobia”.

The ECHR ordered the Romanian authorities to pay €7,500 to ACCEPT and €9,750 to each applicant. Romanian authorities will also have to pay €3,264 “jointly to all the applicants in respect of costs and expenses”, the court said.

ACCEPT said in a statement to AFP that it welcomed the judgment. It added the ECHR ruling showed “such displays of hatred cannot go unpunished”. Iustina Ionescu, the group’s lawyer, said: “For the first time, the ECHR has noted that the Romanian authorities have not fulfilled their legal obligations because of their bias against the LGBT community.”


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