1996 October

Queer demo stops Romanian National Opera at Royal Albert Hall

Protest Demands an End to Romania’s Antigay Laws

Twenty gay activists from OutRage! and the Lesbian Avengers were violently ejected by security staff this evening after storming the stage of the Royal Albert Hall and halting the performance of “Aida” being staged by the Romanian National Opera with sponsorship from Romania’s Ministry of Culture and the nation’s London embassy.

The protesters sounded foghorns, shouted slogans and unfurled a 15 foot banner: “Romania! Stop Jailing Queers!”. Simultaneously, 1000 leaflets were hurled from the top balconies by fellow activists. Written in English and Romanian, the leaflets condemned Romania’s parliament for its “hatred, intolerance and disregard for human rights”.

The protest was against legislation currently before the Romanian parliament that threatens to maintain prison sentences of between one and five years for private, consensual homosexual acts. The proposed new law contravenes assurances given by Romania on its entry to the Council of Europe in 1993 that it would decriminalise homosexuality.

The proposed amendment to the Romanian penal code also includes a provision which criminalises homosexual “propaganda, association or other acts of proselytising”, banning homosexual organisations, support services, social services, and publications, and threatening organisers with up to five years in jail. Even the mere advocacy of homosexual human rights could be a criminal offence under these new laws.

Postscript
This protest received worldwide media coverage, including in Romania. More than any previous action, it drew international attention to Romania’s abuse of lesbian and gay human rights and won OutRage! messages of thanks from homosexual rights groups in Romania.