GayFest is the annual gay pride festival of Bucharest, Romania, which first took place in 2004 and now occurs in May-June of each year, lasting for nearly a week. It is organised by the non-profit organisation ACCEPT, the country's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organisation. The festival also receives funding from the Romanian Ministry of Health and the National Council for Combating Discrimination, as well as a number of private organisations, such as the Open Society Institute and the British Council in Romania.
GayFest features various LGBT cultural events, such as film screenings, art exhibitions, theatre and parties, as well as seminars and debates concerning LGBT social issues; since 2005 the festival has also included a gay pride parade.
The Romanian gay rights movement began gaining ground in the mid-1990s, after homosexual sex between two consenting adults in private was decriminalised in 1996. In the same year, Romania's first gay rights organisation, ACCEPT, was founded in Bucharest, with two core aims: creating a better society for LGBT people in Romania, and changing negative social attitudes towards LGBT people. In the late 1990s, the LGBT rights movement was mainly concerned with lobbying for the repeal of Article 200, which continued to criminalise public displays and promotion of homosexuality. In this context, the issue of organising a gay pride festival was not viable, particularly considering that public manifestations of homosexuality could have been prosecuted under Section 5 of Article 200, which read:
|“||The impulsion or luring of another person in viewing the practice of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, as well as propaganda or any other acts of proselytism for the same purpose are punishable with imprisonment between one and five years.||”|
It is important to note, however, that in October 2000, while Article 200 was still in force, ACCEPT hosted the 22nd European Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association in Bucharest. The event attracted around 100 participants from 27 countries, and created substantial dialogue and media attention about LGBT rights in Romania.
After pressure from ACCEPT as well as the European Union and the Council of Europe, Article 200 was repealed completely at the end of 2001, removing the last anti-gay law in Romania. Additionally, anti-discrimination legislation introduced in 2000 made it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. This permitted a greater social visibility of LGBT people and culture, with several gay clubs opening from 2002 onwards. In this context, the organisation of a gay pride festival became much more viable, with ACCEPT seeking to use these festivals in order to further enhance the visibility of LGBT people, and, particularly through an emphasis on cultural events, further its aim of changing negative social attitudes toward LGBT people in Romania.
Fiesta organizada por integrantes y ex-integrantes del grupo de desarrollo VMQ
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