Romania is not ready to uphold same-sex couples’ rights – PM

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romanian society is not ready to uphold the rights of same-sex couples in line with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling, leftist Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said late on Thursday.

The ECHR ruled in May Romania had failed to enforce the rights of same-sex couples by refusing to recognise their relationships, in a ruling which could eventually force policymakers to expand protections for the LGBT community.

Asked whether Romania will enforce the ruling, Ciolacu told radio station Europa FM that “the Romanian society is not ready for a decision at the moment. It is not one of my priorities and … I don’t think Romania is ready.”

“I am not a closed-minded person, I … have friends in relationships with a man, I don’t have a problem with that, I am talking now from the point of view of a prime minister.”

Romania holds local, European, general and presidential elections in 2024. Ciolacu added it wouldn’t be the first or the last time that Romania fails to enforce ECHR rulings.

Socially conservative Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades later than other parts of the European Union, but still bars marriage and civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

Three legislative proposals to change civil unions to include same-sex couples filed between 2016 and 2019 have not yet made it through parliamentary approval committees, while four similar draft laws had been rejected by 2020.

A referendum to change Romania’s constitution to prevent same-sex couples from securing the right to marry failed to draw enough voters in 2018.

A survey commissioned by LGBT rights group ACCEPT in 2021 showed while 71% of Romanians said legal recognition of civil marriage for same-sex couples would not have any impact on their lives, only 43% were in favour of it.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)