LGBT rights in Moldova

Location Moldova Europe.png
Location of Moldova (green) – Transnistria (light green)
on the European continent (green + dark grey)
StatusYes, since 1995
Gender identityYes, right to change legal gender (with psychiatric diagnosis)
MilitaryGays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation protections in employment (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex relationships
RestrictionsSame-sex marriage constitutionally banned

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Republic of Moldova face legal and social challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same rights and benefits as households headed by opposite-sex couples. Same-sex unions are not recognized in the country, so consequently same-sex couples have little to no legal protection. Nevertheless, Moldova bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, and same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1995.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Moldova has come increasingly under the influence of the Orthodox Christian Church. As result, it has been marred by human rights violations, including violations of freedom of association and freedom of speech.[1][2] Moldova's first pride parade was held in 2002. Since then, however, pride parades have encountered stiff opposition from authorities and religious leaders, and have often been cancelled or banned due to safety concerns. A successful pride parade took place in May 2018 in Chișinău, after police officials protected the participants from violent radicals Orthodox groups.

Moldovan society remains very traditional, and discrimination and violence against members of the LGBT community are commonplace. In 2018, ILGA-Europe ranked Moldova 43rd out of 49 European countries with regards to LGBT legislation. This is an improvement from six years prior, when Moldova ranked last.[3][4]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

Since 1995, homosexuality between consenting adults in private has been legal in Moldova. In September 2002, new laws were introduced equalising the age of consent.[5]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

Moldova does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions. The Moldovan Constitution explicitly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.[6]

Discrimination protections

For a long time, a large coalition of human rights organisations, including GenderDoc-M, was lobbying the Moldovan Government for the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation in line with European standards, which would include sexual orientation as a protected ground.

A law, which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, was adopted by the Moldavian Parliament on 25 May 2012,[7] and signed into law by President Nicolae Timofti on 28 May 2012.[8] The law took effect on 1 January 2013.[9]

The so-called "media propaganda law", which entered into force on 1 January 2019, controversial for its ban on "Russian television programs on news, analysis, politics, and military issues", also contains a clause banning media broadcasters from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Article 11 of the law, entitled the Codul serviciilor media audiovizuale al Republicii Moldova, states that "audiovisual programs are prohibited: ... from propagating incitement, promotion or justification of racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred founded on intolerance or discrimination based on sex, race, nationality, religion, disability or sexual orientation."[10][11]

Gender identity and expression

Transgender people are allowed to change their legal name and gender on official documents in Moldova, but require a psychiatric diagnosis confirming their "transgenderism" to do so.[4]

LGBT rights movement in Moldova

The main gay and lesbian campaigning group is called GenderDoc-M. The group seeks to support and protect gays and lesbians in Moldova, and raises awareness of the lives of LGBT people.[5]

Public opinion

Moldovan society remains very traditional; politicians often make derogatory remarks about the LGBT community, and discrimination against its members is commonplace.

Same-sex marriage support among Moldovans
Year Pollster Results
Yes No
2014 IPP 6% 87%
2016 Fundația Soros – Moldova 5% 94%
2017 Pew Research Center 5% 92%

A sociological survey by the Institute of Public Policies in 2014 showed negative public attitudes among Moldovans towards the LGBT community. Asked what they think about gays and lesbians, 7.9% responded to "mental illness", 6.3% "abnormal", 6.1% "sick", 5.5% "loose" , while 2.5% believe gays and lesbians should be killed.[12] 83% of Moldovans did not accept LGBT people, and 35.8% strongly supported the criminalization of homosexual relations by banning rights (61.2%), fining LGBT people (35.5%) or imprisonment (27.2%).[12] 88.8% of Moldovans would be bothered if a family member was LGBT, and 92% would not accept an LGBT educator/teacher in the class where their child is studying.[12]

According to the study "Church and State in the Republic of Moldova" presented by the Soros Foundation - Moldova in 2016, 84% of Moldovans would not accept homosexuals living in Moldova, 89% would not accept that they live in the same locality, 94% would not accept to have them as neighbors, 95% would not accept being friends and 97% would not want gay family members.[13] The same study revealed that only 5% of Moldovans agreed with same-sex marriages and 6% with civil partnerships.[13] These observations showed that Moldovan society is conservative, and with little willingness to accept minorities.[13]

In May 2017, a survey by the Pew Research Center in Eastern European countries showed that 92% of Moldovans believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.[14] Among young people between 18 and 34, the percentage fell to 88%. According to the same survey, 5% of Moldovans supported same-sex marriages.[14]

However, since the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1995, the attitude of various state institutions has become increasingly tolerant. For example, the Ministry of Health communicated in an official letter that homosexuality is not considered a disease, and medical services are accessible to all, regardless of the sexual orientation of the citizen.[15]

Social conditions

Gay culture

Moldova has a rather small but lively and open-minded gay scene. Chișinău's first gay club, Jaguar Dance and Music Club, opened in 2009. Moldova's first gay pride parade (named Moldova Pride) was held in April 2002,[5] but it was banned in 2007, because homosexuality was said to "undermine the Christian values of Moldova".[16]

Anti-LGBT sentiment

Moldovan society still remains very traditional. Virulent homophobic statements are casually made by politicians, and lesbians and gays are routinely discriminated against. Violence towards gay men is not uncommon.[5]

Scott Lively, a vociferous opponent of gay rights who has linked homosexuality to having played a part in the spawning of the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, visited Moldova in 2010 to oppose an anti-discrimination measure. The bill had passed through committee twice before stalling subsequent to opposition from the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, which cited Lively's visit as a reason for its opposition.[17] The bill, however, was approved in 2012.

In May 2019, Doina Ioana Străisteanu, a human rights lawyer representing Moldova's only LGBT organization, GENDER-DOC, since 2010, was the victim of an arson attack. She found her car alight outside her office in central Chișinău by an unknown male assailant. She reported the attack to police whom, she said, refused to investigate because it did not consider the damage "significant".[18][19]

2008 Moldova Pride controversy

On 11 May 2008, the police and authorities stood by as the Moldova Pride parade was prevented by crowds who surrounded, intimidated and even attacked parade participants. The Mayor of Chișinău, Dorin Chirtoacă, whose campaign slogan was "a young mayor, a liberal team, a European capital", had banned the parade the evening before.[3]

The banning of the pride parade and the crackdown of freedom of assembly drew criticism and concern internationally, including by the then British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.[20][21]

The May 2007 Bączkowski and Others v. Poland ruling was a landmark case, in which the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that by banning peaceful pride parades the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński, had violated three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights: article 11 concerning freedom of assembly, article 13 which deals with the right to appeal, and article 14 which outlaws discrimination.

In 2012, the ECHR ruled that Moldovan authorities had violated human rights by cancelling the 2008 event.[3]

2017 and 2018 events

In May 2017, LGBT activists organised a peaceful march to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Police officials cancelled the event shortly after it started, due to safety concerns because fundamentalist Orthodox groups began attacking pride participants.[22] President Igor Dodon supported the violent attacks, saying: "I have never promised to be the president of the gays, they should have elected their own president." He also personally met the radicals' group and congratulated them. Nevertheless, 450 people attended the march, which was the highest ever at the time.[4]

In May 2018, LGBT activists successfully organised the 17th edition of Moldova Pride. Police protected the participants from radicals, using tear gas to repel them. President Dodon again congratulated the radical groups.[23] The event drew support from numerous embassies (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States).[24]

Bans on propaganda of homosexuality

Since 2012, several cities have enacted bans on "propaganda" of homosexuality (which do not include any kind of administrative sanctions or fines). These cities are:

Similar bans were also enacted in the following districts:

Similar provisions were enacted by following villages of Făleşti District:

On 30 April 2013, the Parliament of Gagauzia approved a bill to forbid the "propaganda" of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism such as same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. The bill didn't include any kind of administrative sanctions or fines but some of its provisions banned any LGBT-related organizations from being registered in the region. Another provision was intended to ban any LGBT-related clubs and entertainment establishments. On 20 June 2013, these provisions were invalidated by a court decision, which held that these laws violated freedom of speech and human rights.

On 23 May 2013, despite the anti-discrimination law which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, the Parliament of Moldova passed a bill which bans the propaganda of prostitution, paedophilia and "any other relations than those related to marriage and family in accordance with the Constitution and the Family Code". The bill also includes fines. The bill was signed into law on 5 July 2013 and came into effect on 12 July 2013. The law did not explicitly prohibit the "propaganda" of homosexuality, but it could have been interpreted as such by judges.[28][29] On 11 October 2013, the Parliament passed a bill intended to remove the content which could have been interpreted as a ban on "homosexual propaganda".[30][31]

UN Human Rights Council resolution

In June 2011, Moldova used its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against the first successful UN resolution condemning discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.[32]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity made legal Yes (Since 1995)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2002)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2013)
Anti-discrimination laws in the media Yes (Since 2019)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas (including hate speech) No
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity No
Recognition of same-sex unions No
Same-sex marriage No (Constitutional ban since 1994)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Right to change legal gender Yes (Psychiatric diagnosis required)
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve in the military Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also


  1. ^ Intergroup reminds Moldova that Right to Freedom of Assembly is a prerequisite to EU accession Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, ILGA Europe
  2. ^ Moldova: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, U.S. Department of State
  3. ^ a b c Of All Places, Is Moldova Leading on Gay Rights?
  4. ^ a b c Rainbow Europe: Moldova
  5. ^ a b c d Lesbian and Gay Moldova Archived 29 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Gay Times
  6. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Moldova Archived 26 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (in Russian) Парламент принял в двух чтениях Закон об обеспечении равенства, отказавшись проводить процедуру поименного или тайного голосования, MoldNews
  8. ^ (in Russian) Избранный президент Николае Тимофти промульгировал Закон об обеспечении равенства, Moldnews
  9. ^ (in Romanian) Proiectul legii cu privire la asigurarea egalității, Parlament.md
  10. ^ COD Nr. 174 din 08.11.2018 serviciilor media audiovizuale al Republicii Moldova
  11. ^ "Moldovan Parliament Speaker Passes Law Against Russian Propaganda". RadioFreeEurope. 11 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Fenomenul discriminării în Republica Moldova: percepția cetățeanului" (PDF). Institutul de Politici Publice. Chișinău. 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Ovidiu Voicu, Jennifer Cash, Victoria Cojocariu (2016). "(In)toleranță și ne(discriminare)". Biserică și stat în Republica Moldova (PDF). Chișinău: Soros Foundation – Moldova. pp. 17–18, 23. ISBN 978-9975-87-220-1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ a b (in English) "Social views and morality". Religious belief and national belonging in Central and Eastern Europe. Pew Research Center. 10 May 2017.
  15. ^ Alexei Marcicov, ed. (2015). "Aspectele sociale. Ce atitudini au guvernul și profesioniștii față de homosexualitate, homosexuali, bisexualitate și bisexuali?". Coming Out. Centrul de Informații „GenderDoc-M”: 29.
  16. ^ Gay Pride banned despite court ruling, Pink News, 18 April 2007
  17. ^ "Spero NewsGay Rights At Center Stage In Battle Over Moldova Antidiscrimination Bill". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  18. ^ Power, Shannon (5 June 2019). "Arsonists attack LGBTI rights lawyer in Moldova". Gay Star News.
  19. ^ Savițchi, Julieta (31 May 2019). "VIDEO // Automobilul unei apărătoare a drepturilor omului a fost incendiat". anticoruptie.md (in Romanian).
  20. ^ Ban of the Gay Pride in Moldova, lack of police protection, violation of human rights
  21. ^ Re: Moldova Pride Sat 11 May 2008
  22. ^ Moldova LGBT march halted as President says: ‘I am not president of the gays’
  23. ^ Moldovan Police Repel Orthodox Activists Trying To Crash LGBT March
  24. ^ Police in Moldova use tear gas on anti-LGBT protesters trying to disrupt Pride march, PinkNews, 22 May 2018
  25. ^ "Moldova city bans 'gay propaganda'". Gay Star News. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Venice Commission :: Council of Europe". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  27. ^ "Moldova: Second largest city overturns local ban on 'gay propaganda'". PinkNews. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  28. ^ Michelle Garcia. "Moldova Secretly Enacts Propaganda Law Similar To Russia's". Advocate.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  29. ^ E-Li. "Moldovan LGBT Community Wake Up With A 'Gay Propaganda' Law Approved By Their Government - Lezbelib". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  30. ^ "Moldova Rejects 'Gay Propaganda' Law". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Moldova cancels 'gay propaganda' ban, eyeing EU entry". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  32. ^ "UN backs gay rights for first time ever". Retrieved 23 August 2015.

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