Members of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Lesbian and Gay Rights have spoken of their dismay at events in Moldova at the weekend.
Lesbian and gay activists in the central European nation, which is not a member of the European Union, had their attempt to hold a Pride event banned and then blocked by police inaction and violence.
In the capital Chisinau on Sunday a bus with 60 Pride marchers was surrounded by hundreds of members of co-ordinated groups, including extremist religious groups and members of the neo-fascist movement.
Pride organisers said that the gay-hate crowds entered the bus and grabbed flags and banners, while their companions shouted “Beat them to death” and “Don’t let them escape.”
There were reportedly nine attempts to call the police during this incident, with no response.
“I will raise this issue within the European Parliament. I will also ask the Moldavian government for an explanation.”
“It is unacceptable that Moldova exposes its own citizens, along with foreign visitors, to such violent attacks,” said Raul Romeva, Vice-President of the Intergroup for Greens/EFA.
“Perhaps the European Union should reconsider its relations with a state so gravely breaching International Human Rights Obligations.”
Sirpa Pietikäinen, Vice-President of the Intergroup for the EPP-ED added:
“EU-Moldova relations are based on the acceptance and implementation of EU values of respect for human rights and democracy. The police should have intervened to respect law and order. These are basic fundamental principles of democracy.”
Moldovan gay rights group GenderDoc-M claims they are the only group in the country to be banned from holding public meetings. Eight have been banned in the past three years.
The group is calling on the European Union, Council of Europe and human rights groups to raise these human rights violations “at the highest level with Moldovan authorities, and to put pressure on Moldovan government to implement its own laws without discrimination and its international human rights commitments. Moldovan authorities must be held responsible for their behaviour.”
In October Moldova was told to “ensure full respect of the fundamental rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities,” by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The report of the monitoring committee about the honouring of obligations and commitments by Moldova was adopted by PACE last year.
PACE rapporteurs gave over a large part of their report to violations of the right to freedom of assembly for LGBT people in Moldova.
In particular, the report stated: “We deplore the fact that after a final ruling by the Supreme Court of Moldova the Chisinau authorities continue to violate the law and deprive the representatives of the LGBT community of their right to freedom of assembly.
“Such situation cannot be tolerated in a democratic state governed by the rule of law. We expect the Moldovan authorities to take all necessary measures to put an end to this practice.”
The Moldovan Supreme Court ruled in December 2006 that a previous ban on the LGBT Pride march was illegal.
This is the fourth year in a row that Moldovan authorities banned the gay Pride march in the capital.
In September the country’s Supreme Court reiterated its previous position that the refusal by the Chisinau City Hall to authorise the march violates Moldovan law on the freedom of assembly, the Moldovan Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.
Moldova is not part of the EU, but is influenced by its neighbour Romania, an EU member state since January 2007.
The small landlocked country of four million people gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The 47-member Council of Europe predates the EU.
It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.
“How can you fail to uphold the basic right to protection against violence and freedom of movement?” said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup.