Religious Zealots Storm Screening Of “120 Beats Per Minute” In Bucharest

Protestors held a banner reading "Romania isn't Sodom."

A screening of the ACT UP drama 120 Beats Per Minute in Bucharest was interrupted by religious protestors, claiming the film violated Romanian values.

The film, from out French director Robin Campillo, recounts the early days of ACT UP Paris, and activists attempts to force pharmaceutical companies to fast-track lifesaving medications. It also presents the growing relationship between two members, newcomer Nathan (Arnaud Valois) and HIV-positive activist Sean (Nahuel PĂ©rez Biscayart). It was being screened as part of LGBT History Month, which is celebrated in February in the U.K. and parts of Europe.

120 BPM/Memento Films

A handful of demonstrators calling themselves Christian Orthodox burst into a theater at the Romanian Peasant Museum on Sunday evening, where the film was being shown. Participants sang religious hymns and the Romanian national anthem, with some holding religious icons and banners saying: “Romania isn’t Sodom” and “Hey Soros, leave them kids alone,” a reference to Hungarian-American philanthropist billionaire George Soros.

Demonstrators said they objected to the film being screened at the museum, according to The Washington Post because “the Romanian peasant is a Christian Orthodox.”

In 2010, a screening of the lesbian drama The Kids Are All Right at the museum was similarly interruptedby nationalist militants, who called chanted “Death to the homosexuals.”

The Romanian LGBT group MozaiQ condemned Sunday’s incident, calling it “the extreme gestures of some ultra-Orthodox and conservative groups … who propagate hate against the LGBT community.” MozaiQ called on Romanian politicians to “send a more decisive signal to society that discrimination is not acceptable.”

Human Rights Watch has praised Romania for making significant progress on LGBT issues, though Romania is one of the few countries in the E.U. that hasn’t adopted legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

BPM was snubbed at the Oscars, but received 13 Cesar nominations (the French equivalent of the Academy Awards).

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.