Artists prohibited from performing in Romania  

Artists prohibited from performing in Romania
Die Andere Welt News Report, August 1994

n Saturday (16. July 1994) the Theater di Cultura was surrounded by armed police including some with dogs. The police were determined to prevent homosexual artists from performing at the theatre.

Five Nordic artists - dancer Erik Kubista, musician Peter Berg and ERI, the Finnish dance troupe were booked to participate in an international gay and lesbian Out Festival in Bucharest. However, giving in to outside pressure, the director of the Ion Grange Theatre cancelled the Friday's performance at extremely short notice. The show was then moved to Casa di Cultura (House of Culture).

However, on arriving at the Casa di Cultura the artists and prospective audience were greeted by a large number of policemen who had been ordered there by the Mayor of Bucharest, who had also formally prohibited the performance. "We weren't even allowed to hold a press conference at our hotel, The Minerva", said dancer Erik Kubista. "CNN, the Romanian TV and about 20 journalists who showed up were forced out onto the noisy boulevard instead."

The Festival, which had received support from the Swedish Institute Foundation, the RFSL AIDS Foundation, and Tupilak, an organisation of Nordic artists, as well as the German Hennchen Mehrzweck Foundation, was arranged by Gay 45, a newly founded Romanian gay magazine.

Until recently Romania has had the most severe anti-gay legislation in Europe, but the country relaxed some of their laws as a result of international pressure. The Swedish artists were prevented from performing in accordance with the law passed in May this year which forbids the presentation of homo­sexuality in a positive light.

At the press conference (on the street) the artists got to the point. “What if I dance after openly admitting that I am gay? Would I be breaking the law?" asked Erik Kubista.

The events caused quite a stir in the Romanian press and television. In the autumn of 1993 Romania was admitted to the Council of Europe on the condition that the country ameliorate its human rights legislation. The human rights of gays and lesbians were explicitly mentioned.

The Romanian daily newspaper, Tlneretul Liber, pointed out - after the events which drew a great deal of attention - that the situation in the country is now intolerable. Would an artist like Elton John be allowed to perform in Romania? Would Nureyev have been allowed to dance? Are Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion designs (according to the newspaper Lagerfeld is gay) forbidden in Romania?

DAW. News Report, August 1994

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