Annual Review 2013
The level of antagonism around LGBTI issue remained high, while some progress was made on specific issues. A number of hateful statements against LGBTI people were made by public figures such as the Moldovan Ombudsman, parliamentary speakers and representatives of the Orthodox Church. A number of towns and villages adopted ordinances prohibiting ‘aggressive propaganda of non- raditional sexual orientation’. The new Anti-Discrimination Law bans discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in employment. The parliamentarians ensured that the Law does not extend protection from discrimination to other areas of life. On a positive note, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban of 2005 Pride event was a human rights violation, and the Supreme Court of Justice issued a recommendation to improve the legal gender recognition process for trans people.
Bias motivated speech
- In March, Ombudswoman Aurelia Grigoriu made several homophobic statements while participating in a talk show on MIR TV Channel. For example, she referred to equality of people before the law and stated that: “Moldova is a Christian Orthodox country with orthodox traditions” using this argument with regard to possible limitations of LGBT people’s right to freedom of assembly. The Ombudswoman added that peaceful demonstrations held by LGBT people constitute “propaganda of a lifestyle and propaganda of themselves” and added that “propaganda is a strong mover of influence on minds of the younger generation”.
- In April, delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) made a Written Declaration condemning the use of homophobic “hate speech” as a political weapon by a fellow member of the Assembly, Mr Voronin, leader of the Moldovan Communist Party, and a former President of that country.
- In May, the Speaker of the Parliament, Marian Lupu, made a series of homophobic comments in a talk show: “They are not like us. Don’t get offended! They are people, but not like us. At least I’m speaking on my behalf in this regard. I deny only the right to marry, to form a family, to adopt children, and the right to all sorts of public demonstrations and so on.” Mr Lupu added: “I treat these things [same-sex relations] as lechery. This is my stance. And being sufficiently well-educated, I’d like to tell you I know that the super-developed civilisations collapsed due to the lack of morality, its loss and establishment of the norms of lechery”, he added.
- In June, the Russian Orthodox Church appealed to Moldovan authorities to “curb attempts to promote sexual perversions and immoral behaviour” as a reaction to the adopted Law on Ensuring Equality. The statement by the Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod continues: “In most cases, homosexuality is a personal choice […] which is why treating ‘sexual minorities’ in the same way as ethnic, racial or social minorities is totally incorrect”.
- In October, the Moldovan Orthodox Church declared that there was no place for homosexuals in hospitals, schools and the food catering system. “The Law on Ensuring Equality has widely opened the gates of heaven to homosexuals. We demand to stop them for a while and not let them be employed in educational, medical and food catering institutions. Just imagine how a homosexual, and 92% of them are AIDS carriers, get employed at the blood transfusion centre. It would be a disaster”, said the Bishop of Balţi and Falesti Marckel.
- A Court in Moldova ruled that a website had violated the right to private life and abetted hatred after it published a ‘black list’ of public figures who allegedly promote homosexuality. A year previously, on his blog Vitalie Marian labelled some public individuals working in the press, governmental bodies or civil activists as promoters of homosexual behaviour. The post was later published by portal Our Moldova, adding new names to the list. The court ruled that the manager of the website, who published the extended ‘black list’, should remove the controversial list of names and pay 5,000 Lei (aprox. €330) in compensation to each complainant. The Court claimed that the list violated the right to private life and discriminated based on sexual orientation.
Bias motivated violence
- In March, a gay person filed a complaint with the police against two unknown persons, who attacked him in his apartment. Under the pretext of having a sexual relationship with him the offenders got into the apartment, kicked him while calling him ‘faggot’, threatened him with a kitchen knife and stole his notebook, mobile telephone, and wallet. The total damage was estimated to amount to €750. Despite the fact that the bias motived violence of this case was clear, according to the conclusion in the police ordinance the case did not fall under hate crime. At the end of December both offenders were sentenced to eight years of imprisonment as they were found guilty of committing robbery with weapons or other objects used as weapons and causing considerable damage.
- In June, two gay men were beaten by members of a Military Unit. The soldiers beat and insulted them for their sexual orientation. As a result of the attack, both victims suffered minor bodily injuries. One of the men called the police, but the call was only registered after GENDERDOC-M intervened. On duty police guards arrived at the crime scene a while later, approached the soldiers, asked them about the incident but ignored the victims entirely. They laughed as soldiers described what had happened using derogatory language while describing the victims. The policemen changed their attitude only after repeated intervention by GENDERDOC-M asking the police to perform their duties. They called an ambulance for one victim and took another to the Police Commissariat for interrogation. Later in August, both men were summoned to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for interrogation. The prosecutor asked personal questions regarding the victims’ sexual preferences and stated that if he had been in the soldiers’ shoes, he would also have beaten the men because of their sexual orientation. Afterwards, in a discussion with the victims’ lawyer, he added that he “will not punish some children [the soldiers] because of faggots”. Consequently, an order to refuse initiation of criminal investigation was issued. In October the victims’ lawyer filed a request to annul the order which was later rejected.
- In January, the City Council of Bălți, Moldova’s second largest city, adopted an ordinance prohibiting “aggressive propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations”. In the ordinance, the City Council referred to religious, historical and cultural reasons for prohibiting ‘propaganda’ within the city of Bălți. A representative of the government to the municipal council, from the Centre for Human Rights (Ombudsman), expressed the view that the decision was a breach of the Constitution and goes against Moldova’s international commitments.
Equality and non-discrimination
- In May, the government organised a roundtable discussion between civil society organisations and the Minister of Justice on a new Anti-Discrimination Bill. The draft originally prohibited discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in all areas of life, but three days prior to the roundtable, the bill was revised and the ground of sexual orientation was excluded throughout the bill with the exception of the area of employment. However, the proposed Bill was intended to protect from discrimination on ‘any other [similar] grounds’. It is legally unclear whether sexual orientation would be covered under ‘any other ground’. After the revision, a new article stating that marriage is exclusively a union between a man and a woman was also included. The Law on Ensuring Equality was adopted by the Parliament and signed by the President in late May. Human rights organisations expressed concerns over the law, stating that it fails to protect LGBTI people from discrimination.
Freedom of assembly
- In June, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban on an LGBT demonstration organised by GENDERDOC-M Information Centre in May 2005 was contrary to Articles 11 (freedom of assembly and association); 13 (right to an effective remedy); and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Republic of Moldova was ordered to pay €11,000 in compensation to GENDERDOC-M Information Centre (Application no. 9106/06).
Freedom of expression
- In August, Moldova’s Supreme Court of Justice upheld the judgement of Chisinau Court of Appeals under which the claims of Fericita Maica Matrona Association, Moldovan Orthodox Church and Mrs Larisa Burca were rejected as unfounded. The claims were made in 2011 and a lawsuit was filed against the decision of Teleradio- Moldova Council of Observers to broadcast the documentary film Rights of Sexual Minorities, from the series Human Rights on the Screen, on the Moldova 1 public television channel.
Human rights defenders
- In December, on International Human Rights Day, GENDERDOC-M Information Centre received its first Human Rights Award from the United Nations Moldova Country Office. In their award justification motion, the organisers stated that Moldova’s only LGBT rights organisation was receiving the award for its work on combating discrimination through litigation, advocacy and awareness-raising activities, which were especially showcased during 2012.
Legal gender recognition
- In May, the Appeal Court of Chisinau ruled that transgender people are allowed to change their legal documents, namely birth certificates, in accordance with their preferred gender. The judgment obliged the State Registry Office to change names and gender marker in the identification documents of two plaintiffs. However, a month later, the judgment was abrogated in the Court of Appeals. The reason being that neither of the plaintiffs had attached copies of their birth certificates to the file, even though this had not been required. The case was transferred to the court of the first instance for reconsideration. The case was positively resolved once again. This time, the Court of Appeals ruled abrogation of the first instance’s judgment.
- In November the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Moldova issued Recommendation 16 “on the Procedure of examination of requests regarding amendment of civil status documents following sex reassignment” due to the growing number of lawsuits, which were examined by courts at national level at the time. The Recommendation states that “homosexual and transgender people must be protected through the Article 8 from the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, i.e. the right to respect for private and family life. The right to change one’s sex and name is a component of the right for private life” and explicitly states that where the Registry Office refuses a person the opportunity to modify or amend the act of civil status documents following their sex reassignment, it can be contested in court. The refusal has been issued by a public authority and, therefore, can be contested using administrative and not special procedures because the fact of the sex change has already been established through medical assessment. The Recommendation of the Supreme Court of Justice is expected to have a positive impact on the overall situation of transgender people in the Republic of Moldova as it will facilitate access to legal gender recognition.
- The second case, also with two transgender plaintiffs, was not accepted for consideration by the court of first instance. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit after having received an official paper from the Registry Office of Ministry of Justice where the authority explained that the medical certificate and recommendation issued by the specialised commission under the Ministry of Health could not be accepted as an official document confirming gender reassignment. Thus the court did not find the paper as an official refusal from the authority and did not accept the file for further consideration.
Participation in public/political life
- In March and April, similar ordinances were adopted in more than 16 localities such as Drochia, Soroca, Cahul, Anenii Noi, Causeni, Basarabeasca and others. In the majority of these localities, the ordinances were either voluntarily repealed by the authorities who had adopted them or contested by the State Chancellery in court. They remain in force only in 5 of the above mentioned localities. All ordinances were considered and adopted upon suggestion of the Moldovan Orthodox Church.
- The EU Delegation in Moldova condemned the above mentioned ordinances as unacceptable violations of human rights, discriminating against LGBT persons, by stigmatising them and restricting their freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Sexual and reproductive rights
- In June, Parliament adopted the Law on Reproduction Health allowing single women to use medical assistance technologies in human reproduction with the use of donor’s sperm on the basis of a request signed by the women. At the end of the year, a case of a lesbian couple from Chisinau who had decided to have a baby and applied to the artificial insemination service, proved that artificial insemination is not denied to same-sex couples. The couple went to two clinics (private and public) to ask if they could benefit from the artificial insemination. In both institutions doctors were open to help them and after the counselling at the medical institution the couple was asked to take genetic tests and afterwards to use the artificial insemination service. Further, at both institutions, private and public, prices were proven to be accessible and the couple is happy they do not need to go to another country to benefit from these opportunities and to pay a significant amount of money for it.