Romanian LGBT rights Accept association reported that seven young women and men have been physically assaulted by a group of ten people wearing hoods, in downtown Bucharest, after attending an academic debate about the history of homosexuality in Romania.
Two of them were injured and were transported to the emergency unit of a near by hospital.
One of them was admitted in the plastics surgery ward, the other one was able to leave the hospital the same night.
During the assault, which happened on Tuesday evening (6 November), the attackers claimed they were opposing the ‘organization of gay events’.
The Romanian legal system treats homophobic intent as an aggravating factor in common crimes.
That is, the fact that a crime was motivated by homophobic bias may lead to a higher sentence.
Irina Nita, executive director of Accept said: ‘We are firmly requesting the authorities in charge with the public safety of the citizens to review the necessary procedures, in order to adequately apply the hate crime law in Romania.
‘People have the need to feel safe and to express themselves in safety, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, opinion or faith.
‘It lies within the responsibility of the authorities to make sure these rights are protected and to punish the criminals that break the law’.
Although Romania has a rather progressive anti-hate crime law it is not always enforced.
During Bucharest Gay Pride in 2006, several participants were beaten up in the subway and the authorities failed to sanction the criminals.
The prosecution dropped the case after five years because it was unable to identify the offenders, in spite of the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the subway. Eye witnesses and pictures of the offenders were also available.
Accept said it will closely monitor the way in which authorities investigate the situation, so that the offenders are brought to justice.
Romania has made significant progress in LGBT rights legislation since 2000.
In the past decade, it has fully decriminalised homosexuality, introduced and enforced wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws, equalised the age of consent and introduced laws against homophobic hate crimes.
In 2006, Human Rights Watch named Romania as one of five countries in the world that had made ‘exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity’.
Romania however remains very socially conservative and even discriminatory towards its LGBT citizens.
During Bucharest Gay Pride 2006, Noua Dreaptă, a far right movement, organised a counter demonstration entitled ‘Marches for Normality’ with offensive slogans against gay rights and the recognition of same-sex relationships.