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Amsterdam, Mon 05 Jun, 2006 16:10
Gay Parade again marred by violence in Romanian

Over 500 gay rights activists pleaded for civil partnership legalization and an end to discrimination, during the Gay Parade on Saturday amid jeers and anti-gay protests bordering on violence.
As the designated hour for the beginning of the march drew nearer, the atmosphere grew more and more tense. Remarks such as "We are not homosexuals, we are real men" coming from groups of people gathering for anti-gay protests could be heard, while a massive police barricade flanked the street. Officers on horseback and in cars together with gendarmes positioned every ten meters showed the police had prepared for the worst.

Romanian and foreign gay rights activists, as well as supporters of their cause, carrying colored balloons and a 200-meter long rainbow flag -- a symbol for harmony and diversity which has been the banner for other gay pride parades organized all over the world -- began their march on Unirii Boulevard and reached Unirii Square in a relatively short period of time. The procession, shouting "We Love You!" and "Homophobia - the Worst Disease," was headed by Romanita Iordache, the president of the Accept Association, Florin Buhuceanu, executive manager of Accept, Diane Fisher, bishop at the Metopolitan Community Church, and Romanian Princess Briana Caradja, who had come to support the march.

The first incidents took place about five minutes after the march commenced, when people from the balconies of the blocks on Unirii Boulevard started throwing eggs and stones at the participants. One of the most severe altercations occurred close to Unirea Shopping Center when about 60 people tried to break through the police barricade to attack the marchers. After being stopped by the police, they centered their fury on the security forces instead, throwing stones at them, which led to 50 people being detained.

Earlier this week, the Romanian Orthodox Church, to which about 80 percent of the Romanians are affiliated, labeled the gay parade as an "attack against the morality of public life, the sacred institution of family and endangering the formation of the young generation," condemning the local authorities for authorizing the march. Last year, Bucharest City Hall gave the green light to the march only after the intervention of President Traian Basescu and Justice Minister Monica Macovei, also prompting the discontent of the Council Against Discrimination.

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