(en)Anarchist Queers Protest Romanian Homophobic Legislation in NYC

buddha (buddha@tao.ca)
Sat, 11 Jan 1997 14:48:46 -0500 (EST)

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Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

)From lnr@blythe.org Thu Jan 9 11:48:02 1997

Anarchist Queers Protest Romanian Anti-Gay Legislation at NY Consulate By Amanda Ream

A New York City-based group, PAQN, (pronounced Packin) the Penniless Anarchist Queer Nuisance, effectively took over the Romanian Consulate on December 19 to protest the countrys ill-famed Article 200, which criminalizes homosexuality. Twenty people demonstrated outside, while four queers blocked the main entrance area of the building (which also houses the Romanian Mission to the UN) demanding the full repeal of the article, and declaring their desire to emigrate to Romania to defy the ban and lend support the efforts of Romanian activists. Supporters from the Network of East-West Women and the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organizaton also joined the protest.

PAQNs action strengthened an international campaign against Romanias antiqueer law. On October 20 in England, the local Lesbian Avenger chapter teamed up with the action group OutRage! to denounce Article 200 from the stage of Londons Albert Hall during a performance of Aida being staged by the government-sponsored Romanian National Opera. They sounded foghorns, shouted slogans and unfurled a banner. The protesters were forcibly ejected by members of the cast in full costume and security staff. Six protesters were injured.

Outside at the NY consulate, protesters staged a Queer Be-In complete with speeches, informational flyers and signs. Meanwhile, the women inside chanted Were here, were queer and were moving to Romania, and participated in expressions of homosexuality banned in Romania under a clause which makes public seduction a punishable offense.

A large Romanian man acting as consulate security, attempted to forcibly remove two protesters, inflicting minor injuries. He then assaulted the legal observer, kicking her to the floor after she had informed him that he was breaking the law by handling the protesters. She later received medical attention.

The consular-general met with the protesters inside after over an hour of disruption and agreed that Article 200 should be repealed. He faxed their demands to the newly-elected Romanian government in Bucharest, and to the embassy in DC. But members of PAQN were not convinced by his diplomat ways. When asked to leave, the four queers refused, calling for the release of the 60 gay men currently imprisoned in Romania under Article 200, which not only metes out jail time for consensual homosexual acts, but prohibits gay and lesbian organizations, outlaws queer literature, and makes the mere mention of homosexuality without condemnation a crime. Thirty-four police officers charged the four protesters with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest and carried them out of the building.

The arrestees sang I Will Survive from their cell, conveying to those on the outside that all was well. All charges were later dropped. A routine trip to the dismal restroom with the female officer given the task of inspecting girls for drugs with their pants down, revealed that members of PAQN didnt stage a take over of the Romanian consulate completely unarmed. The cops discovered the women were indeed strapping it on. Is it washed? one cop winced. Well, she didnt use it, said another irritably. Put that thing in your pocket. I dont want to be seen with it, said the lady cop.

After five hours in the precincts holding cell, a hungry arrestee, Michelle Davis, commented, This time we came packin dildos, next time well come packin lunch.

Official Romanian homophobia encourages a dangerous climate; Queer people in Romania face the constant threat of intimidation, harassment and other forms of violence. Under Article 200, police attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have increased and the Romanian government is currently considering stiffening the penalties for homosexual acts. Incest is preferable to homosexuality, said Emil Popescu, a government official,it gives breeding a chance. Nevertheless, some say Romanias recent election, which seated a monarchist government-the first without significant ties to the Soviet-era regime, offers some hope for Article 200s repeal. PAQN and others plan to keep up the pressure.

PAQNs purpose is to push the boundaries of queer organizing beyond just the issues that face queer people. Queer activism has to take at the links between all our lives and struggles if it is to mean anything for queer people or anyone else. PAQNs project is to make these crucial connections so that queer fights are fights in common.

PAQN is now working on a proliferation strategy, in the hope that autonomous PAQN like groups may start up where you live. PAQN can be contacted at 295 7th Ave. #1 Brooklyn, NY 11215 or at 212-358-5012.

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