LGBT community in Moldova realised their constitutional right to freedom of assembly

Submitted by GENDERDOC-M

After 15 years of fight, on 14 February 2013 LGBT community realized their constitutional right to freedom of assembly

Yesterday, a march of LGBT individuals and their allies took place in Chisinau. Its route lied along the central boulevard of the capital city. In total, eight people participated in the march. It seems there is nothing peculiar in this. It is enough for everybody just to notify the city authorities.

However, these are the LGBT individuals we are talking about. Many haven’t forgotten May 2008 when a bus with human rights defenders was blocked by a mob of homophobes and neo-fascists. And only a miracle and intervention of the Afghani war veterans under the leadership of an MP helped to avoid the tragedy. Prior to that and afterwards, local authorities banned peaceful LGBT demonstrations, marches and public actions under the premise that they might have cause public unrest. Thus the march of eight people carried out in the city centre on 14 February is an important achievement.

Some may wonder if eight people are the LGBT community in Moldova. First, 14 February was a working day and not all of those who wanted to participate could come. Secondly, many gays and lesbians in Moldova continue to stay in the closet being afraid of aggression and publicity; thus, we should not expect numbers of them participating in such events.

However, organisers of the march see things in a realistic manner and do not expect thousands of people taking part in public events. Neither will they hold parades desired by the yellow press. This is not their scope. Annually, they submit a notification of organising a public demonstration to the city hall to make sure the right to the freedom of assembly belongs to them, too, that they will be protected by the state from homophobic violence by religious zealots, neo-Nazis and other homophobes. That’s why, here it’s important not the number of participants but the mere fact of coming out, which must be safe for the event participants.

If speaking of yesterday’s march from this point of view, then it did happen. The city hall approved of GENDERDOC-M’s public event and took responsibility of participants’ protection. Upon the conclusion of the march on the Great National Assembly Square, event organisers thanked law-enforcement officers for adequate protection while giving interviews to reporters from different TV channels. “We felt completely safe. We’d like to thank management of the city police and all police officers who ensured public order along the march route walked by organisation’s staff, gays, lesbians and their friends”, said Anastasia Danilova, GENDERDOC-M executive director.

A journalist from one of the TV channels asked GENDERDOC-M Chairman Alexei Marcicov the following question: “What’s behind the reason of this march?” According to Alexei, there were several reasons. First of all, it was St. Valentine’s Day. And the posters corresponded: Love is Life, Love Thy Neighbour, Love Makes Us Equal, and the main slogan – Love Instead of Hatred.

“Last year, European Court of Human Rights ruled that refusal by Chisinau City Hall to approve a similar march in 2005 was illegal. That’s why we felt obliged to test how ready authorities were to execute not only financial responsibility, but also to ensure our right to the freedom of assembly”, underlined Alexei Marcicov.

Now we can definitely state that on 14 February 2013 (after 15 years of fight), Moldovan LGBT community exercised its constitutional right to the freedom of assembly, organisation and carrying out of public events.

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