Romania must reject Hungary-style anti-LGBT bill, rights groups say

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BUCHAREST, April 29 (Reuters) - Romanian human rights groups on Friday condemned a bill approved by the Senate which bans so-called gay propaganda in schools, saying it would legitimise discrimination against the LGBT community, mirroring measures seen in Hungary and Russia.

The groups urged parliament's lower house, which has the final say, to reject the bill that bans the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change at schools.

Several lawmakers from the ethnic Hungarian UDMR, a junior ruling coalition party, spearheaded the bill which they said would prevent child abuse. Similar legislation in neighbouring Hungary drew sharp criticism from the European Commission, which took Budapest to court. read more

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"Censorship in Budapest's education system must not be enforced in Bucharest," LGBT rights group ACCEPT said. "Romania must avoid the illiberal drift promoted by Hungary through such measures which were received harshly by the European Union.

"Adopting explicitly homophobic and transphobic legislation by censoring information about sexual orientation and gender identity is a shame on Romania. The lower house must vote to stop this incitement to discrimination."

ACCEPT and local LGBT rights group MozaiQ warned the measures would lead to the censorship of movies and news about the LGBT community, as well as curbing marches and public events.

"We urge the lower house to show responsibility and decency and reject any legal proposals which aim to demonize and marginalize the LGBT community," MozaiQ said.

"In the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we believe adopting such a bill in Romania would ... fuel Russian propaganda and Moscow disinformation campaigns."

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

A blanket ban on gender identity studies in 2020 was ultimately struck down.

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Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Nick Macfie

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