Religious Protests Against Gay Films Show Divide in Romania

A scene from BPM (Beats Per Minute).

(AP) Religious protesters in Romania have disrupted the screenings of two movies featuring gay themes, saying they violate traditional values. In response, a new screening of the Cannes award-winning movie "120 Beats Per Minute" is going to be held Tuesday in Bucharest.

The dispute illustrates Romania's divided views about homosexuality, which remains a difficult topic in the eastern European Union member where more than 85 percent of its people belong to Christian Orthodox churches. Homosexuality was only decriminalized when Romania prepared to join the EU in 2002.

Protesters calling themselves Christian Orthodox burst into a movie theater on Feb. 4 during the French AIDS drama "120 Beats Per Minute" by French director Robin Campillo.

Days later, protesters disrupted another movie featuring a relationship with a Romanian man and an ex-convict from the nation's oppressed Roma, or Gypsy, minority titled "Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari."

"(There's a) conflict between conservatives and liberals in Romania," Cristian Parvulescu, dean of the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, told The Associated Press.

Parvulescu says what's happening in Romania is similar to developments in other former communist countries.

"We are influenced by Hungary and Poland," he said

Protesters objected to "120 Beats" being shown at the Romanian Peasant Museum because "the Romanian peasant is a Christian Orthodox."

They sang the national anthem and religious songs while others held religious icons and banners saying: "Romania isn't Sodom" and "Hey Soros, leave them kids alone," referring to Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.

The film, set in Paris in the 1990s, explores homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic. It won the Grand Prize from the jury at Cannes in 2017.

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