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EU Official Pressures Moldova Over Antidiscrimination Bill

Monica Macovei said that including sexual minorities among those who will benefit from the new law was "not negotiable."
A European official tasked with helping Moldova bring its laws closer to EU standards has urged Chisinau to pass an antidiscrimination bill on time and without changes, despite public outrage over a "sexual orientation" clause in the draft, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Speaking by phone to RFE/RL from Brussels on March 23, Romanian Member of the European Parliament Monica Macovei, who heads the EU-Moldova interparliamentary commission, said that including sexual minorities among those who will benefit from the new law was "not negotiable."

"If Moldova wants to get closer to the EU, it must pass the law as it is," Macovei said. "Discussions about including gay rights or not are a thing of the past." She sent a letter to that effect to the Moldovan parliament on March 22.

Adopting the antidiscrimination bill is one of the conditions Moldova must fulfill in order to sign an association agreement with the EU and liberalize its visa regime with the 27-member bloc.

The government adopted the law in mid-February, but it still needs to be endorsed by parliament.

Against Homosexual Rights

The "sexual orientation" clause has triggered a chorus of protests from religious groups.

Three of the four parties represented in Moldova's parliament -- including two that are in the ruling coalition -- have said they will not vote for the law unless that clause is either removed entirely, or matched with specific bans against public gay-rights gatherings and civil unions.

Moldova, where same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 1995 under Council of Europe pressure, has already changed its constitution to state that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.

Over 90 percent of the population describe themselves as members of the Orthodox Church, which has warned the government strongly against adopting the antidiscrimination bill unless the "sexual orientation" clause is removed.