Discrimination at the workplace
Moderator: Angela Anton
The beginning of the discussion was polarized between 2 very different perspectives, both coming from representatives of the LGBT community. The former focused on existing legislation that prevents any discriminatory practice due to the sexual orientation of the employee, whilst the latter showed concrete examples of people who were fired because of their being L or G or B or T.
We understood that in fields of activity such as finances, accounting, management and tourism discrimination does not occur or it is, at least, much less damaging for the employee than in others, such as production and in small enterprises.
The lack of confidence in the Romanian judicial system only complicates a situation which is already very delicate.
- Anti-discrimination courses for employers; both employers and employees are due to follow with strong regularity courses on fire extinction and protection at the workplace; why shouldn’t they also have anti-discrimination then? If practiced for the 2nd. 5th and 10th time, it will become embedded and turn from (laughed at) discourse into non-discriminatory practices
- Strict corporate legislation aimed at fighting discrimination, enforcing sanctions, if needed
- Campaigns for empowerment of the LGBT employee, via articles and posters, for example
Moderator: Diana Prisacariu
First assessed as a matter of will and mentalities, different between Western and Eastern Europe, the discussion evolved towards placing the cornerstone of the issue in the relations between the local LGBT communities, supported by associations, academics and public personalities and the stakeholders based in Bruxelles.
An even more efficient means for achieving mutual recognition is that of good practices from other countries being widely made available to the Romanian public.
An important element of disagreement between participants was whether the negative consequences of discriminating should be the main focus of LGBT rights supporters or not. The main conclusion was that our fight has to be peaceful and positively-orientated rather than based on sanctions for those who discriminate.
- Internal alliances between LGBT people, NGOs, involved academics and public personalities willing to expose the situation of the Romanian LGBT community in an informed and positive way
- (Positive) advocacy campaigns focused on showing the way that countries that are widely perceived as role-models for Romania (eg UK, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian Countries) treat their LGBT communities
- LGBT should understand that, at the same time, it is very important to be a good citizen and a good employee, and not only a defender of LGBT rights; this is the main means to gain genuine respect and confidence from the heterosexual majority; thus, rights can only become active in relation to responsibilitie.
- Use international supporters, for example embassies and international foundations, for funding and making LGBT events visible. It is a soft means of achieving important results that this kind of diplomacy is, because it conveys important messages to decision-maker and majoritarian alike.
Media Representation of LGBT people
Moderator: Lucian Dunareanu
By concrete examples given and questions addressed directly to the participants, the moderator showed the level at which the media are capable of inducing misinformation. The main cause of a situation in which it is not reality that is conveyed is that it is precisely scandalous information that attracts readers.
Consequently, the already very little amount of information related to (all kinds of) minorities that is transmitted to the audience is done from a negative perspective. Moreover, this is emphasised in Romania by the fact that, according to one of the participants, certain very important media are dominated by neo-conservatories.
Reluctance and rejection are the results of ignorance and, consequently, everybody agreed on the necessity of fighting ignorance by several means possible:
- Don’t be silent! Protest every time when information is not correct or discriminatory!
- Look for important people willing to support LGBT-related events, such as the International Gay Film Festival! This is very useful for obtaining fair (and longer) coverage
- Organize free events so as to gain audience that otherwise might not be interested in attending!
- LGBT people should be confident enough to let themselves be more visible in town!
- Given that traditional media is reluctant to supporting us, let’s use new media to the full for promoting our cause!
- Use alternative art, such as theatre and exhibitions, to talk about us!
- Use the space that TV stations have to keep for social advertising for our campaigns!
- Don’t be afraid to pay for positive articles, if this is possible and legal!
Violence against LGBT people
Moderator: Daniel Peslari
Violence in Romania is almost routine, tacitly supported by institutions that should be doing something to stop it, such as the Church. Women and children are its main victims. The situation is worsening, so the question of LGBT being victims of violence appears almost eccentric.
According to several participants, minorities are generally perceived as intruders, for example the German population from Sibiu (a town in southern Transylvania) who have received their properties back in the centre after having been forced to leave them to the state in 1948. The now majoritarian Romanian population sees them as outsiders, though they continue to play a major role in the cultural and economic development of the community (see Sibiu European Capital of Culture 2007).
Violence directed against LGBT people becomes very complicated when corruption, medical procedures, complex legislation, low self-confidence and bureaucracy all enter the equation.
- Very severe legislation to be created and implemented via European and national procedures
- Affiliation to local networks of LGBT people so as to feel part of a community (eg psychological support) and, if needed, prove that you are a victim of violence specifically against LGBT and not a typical one