Global Human Rights Defence

Association "Accept" and others v. Romania

Author: João Victor Stuart
GHRD intern: International Justice and Human Rights team 
LLB Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 


The case Association ACCEPT and others v. Romania concerns the failure of the Romanian State in protecting the applicants from homophobic verbal aggressions and humiliations, and in conducting a thorough investigation into the case (LawEuro, 2019). 

 On February 20th 2013, the petitioners and an LGBT+ rights non-governmental association called ACCEPT organized an LGBT+ History Month festival inside a public museum (LawEuro, 2019). During the screening of a movie, a group of approximately 50 people invaded the movie session and started to shout insults at the audience, such as “death to homosexuals”, “faggots” or “you filthy”, and threaten them, among whom five of the complainers (LawEuro, 2019). The event was interrupted and did not continue after the rally.  

The applicants lodged a criminal suit against the aggressions for incitement to discrimination, abuse by restriction of rights and the use of fascist, racist or xenophobic symbols in public (HUDOC – European Court of Human Rights, n.d. p.02). Moreover, the applicants alleged that the Romanian police failed to protect the citizens that were inside the auditorium and to offer the necessary security for the event to continue in the following days. They also accused the Bucharest’s police department to be reluctant and slow in conducting an adequate investigation of the case (HUDOC – European Court of Human Rights, n.d. p. 02). 

However, on November 22, 2017, the Bucharest Court of Appeal issued its final decision, upholding the prosecutor’s decision to close the investigation because there was no evidence to sustain beyond any reasonable doubt that fascist symbols had been used in the incident. 

Jurisdiction of the ECHR

After the denial of the Bucharest appeal Court to acknowledge the Human Rights violations committed against the applicants, the association “ACCEPT” lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights on 2 April 2016 (HUDOC – European Court of Human Rights, n.d. p. 02). 

The European Court of Human Rights is an international judicial body set up in 1959 in Strasbourg, France. Its main function is to rule on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (The Court – Presentation, Information, Videos, n.d.). The Court’s jurisdiction spreads all over the 47 European States of the Council of Europe, and it can examine cases involving not only the citizens of these countries but also anyone who is present in their jurisdiction (The Court – Presentation, Information, Videos, n.d.). 

Romania is a State party to the Council of Europe, therefore, it is bound to the jurisdiction of the Court. For this reason, relying on articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment), 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 to the Convention (general prohibition of discrimination), the applicants complained about the lack of police protection against the intimidation and insults they suffered during the assault (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.02). They also used the articles to complain about the bias that exists inside the Romanian police department regarding the victims’ sexual orientation, and that prevented the appropriate investigation to take place in 2013 (European Court of Human Rights 2021 p.02). 

Furthermore, the applicants alleged that the lack of police protection that leads to the interruption of the event harmed their right to freedom of assembly, breaching out article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) along with article 14 (European Court of Human Rights 2021 p.02). Lastly, under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), they complained about the lack of effective remedy for their complaints in the Romanian domestic legal system (European Court of Human Rights 2021 p.02). 

Jurisprudence of the ECHR on LGBT+ legal issues

The European Court of Human Rights has a solid jurisprudence when it comes to the preservation of LGBT+ people’s rights to freedom of assembly, prohibition to discrimination and the right to enjoy effective remedies. For example, in the case of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania, a couple of two men alleged that they had been discriminated based on their sexual orientation because of the authorities’ refusal to launch a pre-trial investigation into the hate comments on the Facebook page of one of them (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.15). 

The Court held that the government of Lithuania, in this case, represented by the police agents, was responsible for violating articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR because it did not provide a reasonable explanation for not taking further steps towards an investigation against the offences (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.15). The Court added that this reluctance of the police originated from the prejudice against the applicant’s sexual orientation, which biased their decision. Therefore, the court concluded that the police did not grant the necessary protection to the applicants because of its disapproval regarding their private way of life, which constitutes a discrimination (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.15). 

Furthermore, in Baczkowski and others v. Poland, in which Warsaw’s Mayor Office refused permission for an NGO to organise a march in the streets of the city to raise public awareness about discrimination against LGBT+ people, women and people with disabilities because they did not submit a ‘traffic organisation plan’(Human Rights Law Center, 2017). A day before the protest, the Mayor’s Office had banned stationary assemblies that specifically protested against discrimination against homosexuals (Human Rights Law Center, 2017). 

Although the demonstration happened, the organizers claimed that the authorities’ refusal was motivated by discriminatory reasons as other organizations had their requests approved (Human Rights Law Center, 2017).  The Court held that the Polish government violated articles 11, 13 and 14 of the ECHR. The judges concluded that the authorities’ decision to forbid the march negatively interfered with the applicant’s right to freedom of assembly because protesting against discrimination is not prescribed in the Polish criminal legislation as a reason to reduce or ban the right to freedom of assembly (Human Rights Law Center, 2017). As this provision does not exist under the Polish criminal legislation, it makes the refusal of the Polish authorities illegal, and proves that they indeed violated articles 11 (freedom of assembly). 

Moreover, article 13 of the Convention requires a State to make a domestic remedy available if a person’s rights are infringed under art 11 (Human Rights Law Center, 2017), however, the Polish authorities failed to do so. According to the judges, this appropriate remedy became available to the applicants only after the date of the march, and not as soon as the Mayor forbade their manifest. They also stressed that this failure occurred exclusively because of the delay of the authorities’ decision in fixing the unlawful decision of the Mayor (Human Rights Law Center, 2017). In this sense, the Court found that the state’s response lacked a reasonable time limit, which in the case, amounted to the violation of article 13 (Human Rights Law Center, 2017). In addition, the Court considered the decision to ban the march as discriminatory, and then, in violation of article 14 of the ECHR. 

The situation of LGBT+ people in Europe

As much as Europe has achieved a high standard of protection of Human Rights, LGBT+ people are still victims of hazardous violations of their basic rights. 

The 2020 annual report of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and intersex association (ILGA-World) has flagged that the European Continent has been suffering from a rising far-right movement that threatens LGBT+’s rights (The International  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 2020 p.07). This scenario is responsible for the increasing surge of online hate speech and physical attacks against LGBT+. For example, the report stated that after Brexit, the anti-LGBT+ hate crimes and incidents in England and Wales rose from 5,807 in 2014-15, to 13,530 in 2018-19 (The International  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 2020 p.07).

When it comes to Eastern Europe, the scenario worsens. The report informs that the far-right and conservative political parties of Russia, Hungary and Poland have been issuing numerous decisions to ban LGBT+ events as well as to criminalize and prosecute the participants of such events (The International  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 2020 p.07).

The ILGA-World also sent some legal comments about the case of ACCEPT Association and Others v. Romania to the ECHR’s chambers a few years after the association lodged the application. They brought interesting statistics about the critical situation of LGBT+ people in Europe. It highlighted a survey conducted by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency that gathered 93,000 responses to an online questionnaire on hate crimes and discrimination experienced by LGBT+ people in the 27 EU member states and Croatia (ACCEPT Association and Others v. Romania. Application No. 48301/08, n.d. p.02). 

The survey concluded that nearly 50% of the participants avoided some places and locations because they feared being assaulted, threatened or harassed. In Romania, this percentage went up to 61% (ACCEPT Association and Others v. Romania. Application No. 48301/08., n.d.). In addition, the EU’s agency survey demonstrated that 23% of the participants were open about their sexuality, while in Romania this number was much lower, only 7% (ACCEPT Association and Others v. Romania. Application No. 48301/08., n.d. p.02).  


Regarding the applicants’ claims about the failure of the police to fulfil its obligation to protect them, which corresponds to the violations of articles 3, 8 and 14 of the ECHR, the judges agreed that the minimum help the police offered to the 20 people in the auditorium who suffered the verbal abuses by the protesters was not enough to fulfil this obligation (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.03).  They convicted the State of Romania for not offering the necessary protection to the victims because, although there were several police agents in the location, all of them left the auditorium. 

The fact that the agents left the victims alone with the aggressors made the judges believe that they ignored the risk to the safety and dignity of the victims. For this reason, the State of Romania did not attempt to prevent the abuses, as it did not deploy an effective intervention to safeguard the well-being of the victims (European Court of Human Rights, 2021 p.02). 

Therefore, this failure of the Romanian police in fulfilling its duty to protect the victims resulted in serious offences that violated the prohibition of degrading treatment of article 3 of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights, n.d.). It also breaches article 8 because, in addition to abstain itself from interfering in people’s private life, the state must ensure that other private agents do not attack or reduce this privacy (European Court of Human Rights, 2020). As the police failed to comply with that, it constitutes a violation. 

Lastly, the police’s failure also contradicts article 14 because the reluctance of the police officers in stopping the offences was motivated by prejudicial reasons. Article 14 forbids different treatment among people when this treatment is not justified by reasonable and objective motives (Equality and Human Rights Commission, n.d.). The dislike for LGBT+ people is not an objective, nor a reasonable justification. 

Moreover, when it comes to the delay of 4 years and 8 months for the police to conclude an investigation on the hate crimes committed in the auditorium, the Court found the time range disproportional given the clear evidence of hate crimes in this case (European Court of Human Rights, 2021). In addition, the judges flagged that the police repetitively referred to the abuses as “discussions”, the perpetrators as “sympathisers” of far-right organisations and the victims as “followers” of same-sex relations (European Court of Human Rights, 2021). 

According to the court, both the investigation’s delay and the nomenclature used by the police reflected a biased approach taken by the police department concerning this case. In that sense, the Court concluded that the authorities had not taken reasonable steps to investigate the verbal abuses, and then, disregarded their obligation to investigate (European Court of Human Rights, 2021).

Concerning the claims related to the violation of the victims right to freedom of assembly (art. 11), the Court’s jurisprudence understands that the state must take appropriate measures to secure the peaceful conduct of assemblies and the safety of citizens (European Court of Human Rights, 2020). However, the police officers refused to interfere with the invasion of the auditorium, which convinced the judges to convict the State of Romania for failure in   ensuring the safety of the victims during their peaceful and lawful public demonstration (European Court of Human Rights, 2021).

The Court decided that there was no need to examine the issues raised under Article 13 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 12.


This case’s decision reinforced the commitment of the European Court of Human Rights to strengthen the rights of the LGBT+ community in the European continent by blocking the advancement of prejudicial and discriminatory movements in national contexts. It also highlights the prohibition against national policies that criminalize or contribute to undermine the right to freedom of assembly and privacy of minority groups. 


(2019, April 14). ASSOCIATION ACCEPT AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) – LawEuro. LawEuro. 

ACCEPT Association and Others v. Romania. Application no. 48301/08. (n.d.). The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. 

  1. (n.d.). HUDOC – European Court of Human Rights. European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved July 2, 2021, from{%22itemid%22:[%22003-7037146-9498061%22]}

Equality and Human Rights Commission. (n.d.). Article 14: Protection from discrimination | Equality and Human Rights Commission. Retrieved July 2, 2021, from 

European Convention of Human Rights. (n.d.). European Convention of Human Rights. 

European Court of Human Rights. (2020a). Guide on Article 8 of the Convention – Right to respect for private and family life. 

European Court of Human Rights. (2021b, June). Factsheet – Sexual orientation issues. European Court of Human Rights. 

European Court of Human Rights. (2021c, June). Press release. Police failure to prevent far-right invasion of gay film screening and homophobic abuse.

HUDOC – European Court of Human Rights. (n.d.). European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved July 2, 2021, from{%22itemid%22:[%22003-7037146-9498061%22]} 

Human Rights Law Center. (2017, August 4). European Court of Human Rights Considers Obligation to Facilitate Peaceful Assembly, Association and Expression. 

The Court – Presentation, information, videos. (n.d.). European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved July 2, 2021, from 

2 thoughts on “Association “Accept” and others v. Romania”

  1. I simply couldn’t go away your site before suggesting that I really loved the usual information a person provide for your guests? Is gonna be back ceaselessly to investigate cross-check new posts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.


Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.