Executive summary

AuthorRomanita Iordache
1. Introduction
Although Romania is theoretically a diverse society,1 the understanding of the principle of
equality and non-discrimination in the country is marked by thr ee historical periods. First,
Romanian society had to come to t erms wit h the Communist expe rience of an imposed
rhetoric of equality, de facto contradicted b y aggressive assimilationist policies in regard
to national or ethnic minorities, the refusal to recognise Roma as a n ethnic minority,
Holocaust denial and hate crimes which remain unpunished, the criminalisation of
consensual homosexual activities and the denial of religious fre edom. Secondly, Romania
had to cope with a transition p eriod, which began in 1989. This was a period of increa sed
awareness of the situation of minorities, magnified by a process of as serting the rights of
these groups and the principles of equality an d non-discrimination, including the adoption
in 2000 of the Anti-disc rimination Law. The third period, following accession to the EU in
2007, i s one of gradual regression in the protection of human rights and the revival of
nationalistic extremist discourse and cond uct in relation to vulnerable groups, p articularly
Roma, LGBTI people and religious minorities. This most recent stage of deteriorating
human rights and equality standards has been more obvious in electoral years. The
increase in the challeng es to the idea of equality, again st NGOs working with vulnerable
groups and even ag ainst the national equalit y body were acc entuated in 2018, in the
context of the campaign for a referendum to restrictively define family in the Romanian
Constitution so as to exclude same-sex or single parent families. Although the 2018
referendum fail ed due to an active boycott leading to a low turnout, no measures were
taken to assess, respond to and tackle the homophobia that continued even after the
referendum was declared invalid. No significant events were registered in 2 019.
The Romanian Anti-discrimination Law, Governmental Ordinance 137/ 2000 (GO
137/2000), was ad opted in 2000 as delegate d legislation and has subsequently been
amended. The last three rounds of amendments in 2013 were made in the context of the
proceedings before the CJEU in case C-81/12 ACCEPT v NCCD (the Becali case).2 The 2000
discussions on the two European equality directives influenced the wording of the
Romanian law, the provisions of which, in many ways, went beyond the acquis. A significant
number of the cases before the national equality body the National Council for Combating
Discrimination (NCCD) relate to infringement s of th e right t o dignity, a distinct feature
of the law.
Eighteen years after adopting the Anti-discrimination Law, Romania remains tainted by
discrimination. The Romanian Roma minority, for which official statistics are contested but
which is considered to be the largest in Europe, faces discrimination in access to
employment, to healthcare, to services and goods, to housing, including public housing,
and to education. The revival of th e extreme nationalist discourse, characterised by the
incidents of arson and mob violence against Roma communities in the early 1990s,
permeates the public sphere. Media reports of Italian, French, British or German concerns
regarding Romanian Roma periodically provide new opportunities for discriminatory public
statements against Roma, including by officials. This gradual acquiescence to racism, led,
for example, to the construction in Baia Mare in 2011 of a 1.8-2 metres-high and 100
metres-long wall as a ‘safety measure’.3 The wall still stands in spite of repeated fines
imposed by the NCCD.
1 According to the 2011 national census, the Romanian population includes 88.9 % Romanians, 6.5 %
Hungarians, 2.46 % Roma and less than 1 % Ukrainians, Germans, Russians, Turks, Tatars, Serbs, Slovaks,
Croats, Jews, Armenians and Bulgarians. Information available at:
2 Government Ordinance 137/2000 regarding the prevention and the punishment of all forms of
discrimination (Ordonana de Guvern 137/2000 privind prevenirea i sancionarea tuturor formelor de
discriminare) (the Anti-discrimination Law), 31 August 2000.
3 Although the NCCD condemned the construction of the wall, the Court of Appeal quashed the NCCD
decision. In 2013, the High Court of Cassation and Justice eventually upheld the decisions the NCCD made

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT