Romanian museum defends screening of AIDS film amid protest

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian museum has defended its screening of French AIDS drama “120 Beats Per Minute” amid protests over gay themes which feature in the film.

Lila Passima, director of the Romanian Peasant Museum, told The Associated Press that despite coming under pressure from far-right groups not to show the film, the museum’s role was not to “ask people if they are a homosexual, an Orthodox or a Protestant.”

A dozen far-right protesters gathered outside the museum Tuesday. They said the Cannes award-winning movie “glorified the fight of pro-gay activists,” and should not be screened in the museum they called “a temple… of ancient Romanian civilization.”

British Ambassador Paul Brummell called the movie “a widely acclaimed film that should be seen,” and praised the museum for “persevering” to give film-goers a chance to see it.

When the movie was first shown at the museum on Feb. 4, protesters burst into a movie theater and disrupted it.

Days later, protesters disrupted another movie at the museum featuring a relationship between a Romanian man and an ex-convict from the nation’s oppressed Roma, or Gypsy, minority.

Some 50 people of all ages came to watch the movie Tuesday evening. Plain clothes police officers were present in the movie theater and security was tight at the museum entrance.

“In the old days, homosexuality was not tolerated, but we are not shocked by it,” said student Corina Bojan, 18. She called herself an Orthodox Christian, adding her beliefs did not prevent her watching “an interesting film.”

The dispute highlights divided views about homosexuality in Romania, where more than 85 percent of its people belong to Christian Orthodox churches. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2002 as Romania prepared to join the European Union.

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