IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Autor)
The 29 November 2000 issue of the Windy City Times, the Voice of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Community, states:
The first publicly announced meeting of the Republic of Moldova's only legal gay and lesbian organization, GenderDoc-M, was suspended by the police in Kishinev Sept. 23....An interview with Max Anmegikyan, the director of GenderDoc-M, follows.
Can you give us some background information concerning the legal and social situation for lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals in the Republic of Moldova?
In 1995 the article 106, which provided from two to five years in prison for homosexual intercourse, was abandoned under the pressure of the Council of Europe. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people started a happy life without any problems, incidents, discrimination, and hate. That is because sexual minorities still live in fear, which is a determinative factor in our society. You can abolish articles in any law in just five minutes, but changing the people's mentality takes decades. Homosexuals do not want anybody around to know about their sexual orientation, because this can lead to dismissal from the job, beatings, hate. That is why they are an easy target for blackmailing. We do know cases when the Moldovan police blackmailed gay people, asking them to pay from 20 lei (2 USD) to 100 USD at a time. Also, the police knows very well where the cruising areas for gays are and very often comes there to beat them up, rob, etc. Sexual minorities are not protected in any way, because for the majority, including our authorities, we are outlawed, the lowest caste possible, paedophiles and criminals. Despite all this there hasn't been a single case hearing in Moldovan courts, because gay people are afraid to reveal their identity.
Does GLBT activism have a long history in your country?
GLBT activism started in Moldova in 1998, when the Informational Center "GenderDoc-M" was registered and the first issue of the magazine "Mirror" was published, reflecting the problems of the homosexual and bisexual community. Also, in 1998 a civil movement for gay and lesbian rights "Curcubeul" ("Rainbow") was initiated and made a declaration, saying that we do not want to propagandize a sexual revolution but do want to live without being afraid to be recognized in the crowd. In December of 1999 and in February 2000 with the support of the Soros Foundation Moldova we organized two international seminars on the psychological, social and legal aspects of homosexuality, which caused a lot of articles to be published in the Moldovan press. Some of them cited the Bible: "The wine-grower must cut the vine, which doesn't crop." Of course, we were blamed again for being immoral, paedophiles, criminals, etc. But the overall effect was very positive, as many newspapers published rather positive articles about our activities and homosexuality in general.
Can you tell us a bit about your group[...]; what the name means, how many members you have, etc.?
When the Ministry of Justice officially registered "GenderDoc-M" in 1998 we were actually a little bit sly and didn't register our organization openly as a gay place, but as an organization that would pay attention to the gender relations, which include homosexuality. That is the only reason we didn't have any problems with registration. That is also the explanation for our name: Informational and Documentary Center on Gender Issues. "M" stands for Moldova. Most of our members are gay and bisexual. We do have troubles attracting lesbians to our activities, as they are a little bit frightened. ... So far we have about 10 active members and about 75 people who participate regularly in our activities. Our activities have included the two international seminars plus several general assemblies. Also in cooperation with a Moldovan NGO "Youth for the Right to Live" we work in the city helpline, which has already accorded psychological assistance to many gay people. We managed to publish three issues of "Mirror," the first two issues were published with our own money without any help from sponsors. Right now we have a big project written down[...];"Informational Aspects of Homosexuality," which has been submitted for financing to the U.S. and Dutch Embassies.
At the end of September the police broke up one of your events.
Gay people have always had troubles with the authorities, most of the troubles do not happen in public and are 'unofficial.' On Sept. 23 we were supposed to have just a general meeting of the Center and the movement "Rainbow" in a public library. The director of the library received some threatening calls from the Moldovan Orthodox Church, the City Hall and the Municipal Police. The director got very scared and didn't let us (about 50 people) in her library but instead proposed another one. After we all moved and started our assembly, in about half an hour a mini-bus arrived with about 12 policemen and the Commissioner of the Chisinau Police, Mr. Covali. He interfered, asked us to present the documents of registration, etc., which we didn't have with us. Going home for the documents meant to spend about two hours and dissolve the assembly.
It is interesting, that after-event in an interview to one of the local newspapers he said that "homosexuals are outside the law in Moldova. We do not have any law that would allow homosexual relations. They are criminals and should not be allowed to have meetings and assemblies."
It's obvious that we became a target of the authorities' homophobia. More than that, I would suggest that it is not only us who are afraid. The authorities are afraid of us and of what we do. Besides, the Moldovan Orthodox Church is very influential in our society, and it promised to excommunicate all homosexuals. Our authorities have very close relations with the church and are very religious.
I know you are planning to bring charges. What reaction are you expecting?
We do not plan to bring the charges anymore. Next week we will have a round table in the Soros Foundation with the participation of the police, NGO representatives and us. Hopefully it will bear some results. The authorities got a little bit scared after they realized that the incident got an international response. We received a lot of e-mails of support, many faxes were sent to our ministries, the newspapers wrote about what happened. We also managed to attract the attention of the European Parliament towards what happened and they promised to discuss the incident with the Moldovan authorities.
No additional information on the situation of homosexuals in Moldova or on the state protection available to them, nor on the existence of state programs designed to promote respect for their rights or on the public perception of homosexuals, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Windy City Times [Chicago]. 29
November 2000. Michele Marie Bonnarens. "Moldova's Gays Fight to
[Accessed 23 July 2001]
Additional Sources Consulted
Correspondence sent to one source
Internet sites including:
BBC News Online
GAYZOO search engine
Hokkaido University Slavic Research
International Gay and Lesbian Human
International Lesbian and Gay
Moldovan Helsinki Committee
World News Connection