Objectives of the project

Objective 1: The social inclusion of LGBT people in contemporary Romania –public opinion and a cross-country comparative analysis between Norway and Romania

Public opinions and legal status strongly affect the lives of LGBT individuals, either directly or indirectly. These problems range from legal issues concerning formal discrimination/protection to interpersonal psychosocial processes concerning acceptance and prejudice. It is therefore important to asses and understand contemporary public opinions concerning LGBT-issues.

We aim firstly, to assess Romanian public attitudes, and secondly, to study how discrepant evolution in Norway and Romania of public attitudes toward LGBT people impacts the social inclusion of LGBT people involving a retrospective approach of the last 25 years using both primary and secondary data analyses. Apparently, the two countries are similar in terms of not incriminating homosexuality, but they show a profound disparity in the progress towards the social inclusion of LGBT persons.

Thus, whereas Norway has decriminalized homosexuality in 1972 and has recognized same-sex partnerships since 1993, Romania has decriminalized homosexuality 30 years later (2001) and still does not recognize same-sex partnership. On the contrary, in October 2018 the public authorities organized a referendum to amend the constitution so that only heterosexual marriages would be recognized. While the referendum did not pass because of a low turnout (21.1%), it should be noted that 91.56% of voters were in favor of this amendment (BEC, 2018). Currently, the attitudes against LGBT people in Romania remains intransigent.

Objective 2: Validation of an intervention program to reduce teachers’ level of prejudices and negative attitudes toward LGBT persons and establish means to confront social exclusion behaviors in students.

Given that Romanian LGBT students report some of the highest levels of feeling discriminated by school personnel (European Commission, 2014), the school setting seems to be one of the places where an intervention to decrease the level or prejudices and negative attitudes toward LGBT people is mostly needed. Also, teachers stand out as a very efficient group to reach since all young Romanians meet teachers.

Therefore, we will test the efficacy of an innovative program that combines education of participants with LGBT contact through testimonials in order to reduce negative attitudes toward sexual and gender minorities among teachers, as well as to equip them to respond effectively when confronted with discriminative behaviors against LGBT persons in school settings.

Objective 3: Validation of an online intervention to increase the ability of LGBT persons to cope with adverse events through self-acceptance and personal agency

The increased vulnerability among LGBT persons to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety is related to the stress of being part of a social minority (Meyer, 2003), which includes repeated experiences of negative social events that may end up with internalized homophobia, and a general climate of heteronormativity. However, some research suggests that promoting self-acceptance might be beneficial to reduce self-stigma around sexual orientation. Together with an increased sense of personal agency, meaning that they are able to produce changes in their own life and to control their fate, we expect that LGBT individuals will be better equipped to confront with potential adverse events, including discrimination.

Key targets to be achieved in the project

  • Providing status of contemporary level of social inclusion of LGBT in Romania and Norway (O1).
  • Identifying salient factors that influence public opinions on LGBT-issues across time (O1).
  • Proposing an agenda or policy recommendations to improve the status quo, with a particular emphasis on Romania, based on the results of the study (O1).
  • Reducing teachers’ level of prejudice and negative attitude against LGBT persons as they are key actors in school settings (O2).
  • Provide teachers with tools to confront social exclusion among pupils and students of LGBT persons (develop intervention tools) (O2).
  • Improving the quality of life among early adult LGBT and reducing the risk for mental health problems by developing and implementing an intervention tool (O3).
  • Taking active measure to upscale the impact of the obtained results (O2and O3).