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GayFest 2004

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The GayFest 2004 was, at that time, the first LGBT festival ever organised in Romania, and took place between 3 and 9 May. It was initially titled "The Diversity Festival", and had the theme of "You have the right to be diverse". The festival was mainly centred on public debates concerning attitudes towards LGBT people in Romania, as well as cultural events. Several publications on LGBT issues, such as George Bălan's Homofobia, were officially launched, and Romania's first LGBT film festival was organised, with nine films from nine different countries, including a documentary about the 2001 gay pride parade in Belgrade, Serbia, which degenerated into violence. As part of the GayFest, the Goethe Institute in Bucharest hosted a photographic exhibition by Polish artist Karolina Bregula, titled Să ne vadă ("Let them see us") which explored the visibility of gays and lesbians in Poland.[1]

According to Florin Buhuceanu, the executive director of ACCEPT:

The idea behind the festival was to offer some transparency for the gay community in Romania. This will be a week in which we will celebrate the right to be different from the majority while at the same time having solidarity with the rest of society. Romania must show that it lives in the Europe of 2004.

The festival was publicly supported by a number of high-profile figures, such as parliamentarian Mădălin Voicu, who stated in the press that, "...we [Romanians] should adapt and realise that no more barriers exist in this domain except those imposed by decency...Homosexuals exist in all layers of society, starting from poor people to politicians, VIPs, etc."[2]

The 2004 Diversity Festival was initially planned to be organised with the support of the National Council for Combating Discrimination and Bucharest's Sector 3 Council, both of which later pulled out citing financial reasons, and resulting in the event being organised by ACCEPT with the support of several sponsors, including the Romanian Government, the British Council, the Goethe Institute, and the Embassy of Sweden in Bucharest.[2]

A gay pride parade through central Bucharest was also initially projected, but was later abandoned, with various newspapers stating that Romanian society was not ready for such an event. Ştefan Iancu, the organiser of the 2004 Diversity Festival, stated to Ziarul, on 3 May, 2004, that, "We wanted to do this [a pride parade], but we don't know if we would succeed in convincing gay people to come out into the streets. Evidently, they are too afraid of the repercussions (jobs lost, shocked parents, etc.)"[2] Nonetheless, the next year a gay pride parade was organised as part of GayFest 2005.

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