The Moldovan authorities must ensure that yesterday's historic Pride march in the capital Chisinau is the "first of many" and is followed up by other steps to combat homophobic discrimination, Amnesty International said today.
Around 100 people participated in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Pride parade, the first such event in Moldova.
The march, which was organized by Gender-Doc Moldova, a national NGO working on LGBTI issues, was stopped early due to threats from counter-demonstrators.
"This is a red-letter day for LGBTI rights in Moldova; now the authorities must publicly support Pride marches and enable this event to be the first of many of its kind," said Amnesty International's David Diaz-Jogeix, Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme.
"The abrupt ending of the march shows more still needs to be done in the fight against discrimination in Moldova. If the LGBTI movement is allowed to blossom, a more tolerant society will follow."
Sunday's march passed off peacefully but was curtailed after counter demonstrators found out where the event was being held.
Before the parade, an Orthodox Bishop from the city of Bălţi called on priests, Afghanistan war veterans and Chisinau residents to resist the march.
Around a thousand counter-demonstrators gathered in the city centre on Sunday to protest against the march and the Law on Ensuring Equality – the anti-discrimination legislation that came into effect in January.
Amnesty International has called on the Moldovan authorities to amend the law so that it clamps down on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is explicitly prohibited only in employment, while discrimination on the grounds of gender identity is not explicitly prohibited in the law.
"The authorities must publicly acknowledge the seriousness of discrimination against LGBTI individuals and the need to take concerted action to address it," said David Diaz-Jogeix.
"That means condemning any homophobic remarks made by politicians or members of the public.”
Organizers had to change the location of the march three days before the event due to the fear of counter-demonstrations. The final route was only agreed on Saturday after police warned of a security risk.
In March last year local councils in Bălţi, the villages of Chetriş and Hiliuţi in Făleşti District and the Anenii Noi District took openly discriminatory measures to forbid any kind of promotion of LGBTI rights. Only one council repealed its decision upon intervention by the Ombudsperson.
On 12 June, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the banning of an LGBTI demonstration in May 2005 in Chisinau had violated the right to freedom of assembly as well as the right not to be discriminated against.