Moldova’s Freedom of Assembly Score
Some believe revolution is done on streets, and this is something I can do nothing else but agree with. However, any revolution necessitates people who are eager to carry it out. This is what Republic of Moldova dramatically lacks – an LGBT community to enact revolution in this small Southeastern European country. The first LGBT revolution in the Republic of Moldova will happen along the first numerous, freely organised, unobstructed and adequately protected by the police LGBT pride march. Until then, there is a long way of legal struggle for LGBT people to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and association enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Even though Moldova has a long history of a small-scale LGBT pride festivals usually held in early May, it almost never ended with an official public demonstration or rally which wouldn’t be banned by the capital city authorities or called off or postponed by organisers due to various threats. Since 2005, GENDERDOC-M, the only local LGBT advocacy organisation, has attempted to hold several official demonstrations in support of adoption of the recently adopted anti-discrimination legislation; and all these failed due to institutionalised homophobia expressed by Chisinau city authorities.
In 2005, authorities prohibited the group to assemble in front of Moldova’s parliament to call on legislators to adopt legislative measures combating discrimination against gay people. This illegal and discriminatory ban made GENDERDOC-M appeal to local courts, which later confirmed legality of city hall’s decision. The organisation had nothing else to do but to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Six years after the complaint was submitted, the Court ruled that the ban was illegal and it found Republic of Moldova liable for violating Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, during these six years, GENDERDOC-M’s other attempts to hold an official demonstration were banned again or obstructed from happening, such as in 2008 when a bus of 45 demonstration participants was surrounded by an aggressive mob of some 300 counter-protesters after the vehicle had arrived to rally’s starting point. That day might have become the Black Sunday as someone once put it, especially given that the homophobes tried to destroy the bus’ engine and take out LGBT activists while threatening them with death. The most striking thing was that the police were watching this human rights tragedy and didn’t intervene to save bus hostages from the mob’s anger and cruel intentions. However, that year didn’t teach Moldova’s authorities a lesson, either; nor did 2010, and the case was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights again where it’s final judgment is pending.
Obviously, pride in the complete sense of the word is yet to be obtained by local LGBT community, but while it is being nurtured, a small group of LGBT activists and their allies will continue testing Moldova’s democracy and its commitment to human rights, especially to the freedom of assembly, which is not applicable to LGBT individuals when they want to openly declare their existence and demand equal treatment from the authorities.