Sweden warns Moldova over LGBT rights

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Swedish Foreign Minster Carl Bildt has condemned the violence against homosexuals during the Moldova Pride Festival and demanded that Moldavian government upholds the rights of its LGBT people.

The May 11th Pride March ended disastrously for its participants.

Lesbian and gay activists in the central European nation had their attempt to hold a Pride event in capital Chisinau banned and then blocked by police inaction and violence.

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 homophobic 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.

“The fact that the police were in place and did not intervene when the participants in the demonstration were attacked results to concerns and questions with regards to the Moldavian authorities’ ability to protect the citizen who want to express their views,” Mr Bidlt said.

“The Swedish government attaches great importance to human rights being respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I therefore am concerned about the events that took place in connection with the planned Pride event in Chisinau on May 11 and regret that the demonstration could not be implemented.”

The foreign ministry has warned Moldova to uphold and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, made in the context of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

It also intends to ask the EU to discuss the issue of Moldova.

Although Moladvia is not part of the EU, it is largely influenced its neighbour Romania, which joined the EU in 2007.

It gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Moldova has a poor track record in terms LGBT rights.

Homosexuality was legalised in 1995, but the society is still very much influenced by the anti-gay sentiments from the Soviet era.

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.

In October last year,  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 May 11 ban on Pride came despite the ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court 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.