By joining the European Union, Romania has had to adjust its laws in order to adopt the pro-homosexual policies demanded of participant countries. While this is a relatively new change (think January 1 2007 new), it means that it is no longer a criminal offence to be gay in Bucharest.
The general consensus of gay travelers and expats is that a same-sex couple holding hands in the street are guaranteed to get some nasty looks or a little verbal abuse, but for the most part it stops there.
With the pride parade just wrapping up a few weeks ago, we can happily state that it was the first event to go off without incident. Previous parades have been marred by violence against protesters, and even this year the city approved two homophobic counter-marches aimed at "promoting normality", although these particular groups were heavily supervised by police.
The parade, organized by ACCEPT - Romania's LGBT group - and was attended by a number of foreign officials representing their governments, including those from Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech republic and Sweden. Gay Bucharest was there in force - dancing and waving pride flags. Also representing in style were a number of foreigners, both expats and tourists, who came out to support the event.
See photos of this years parade.
It's always best to organize these things before you go. There are plenty of hotels in the city center with a varying level of quality. One solution is to rent a little pied a terre, and immerse yourself in city life: Luxapartments offers you the best Bucharest apartments.
Regardless of where you stay, it's important to note that there is a level of notoriety that surrounds the cabbies in this country. Fixed meters that tick up a USD150.00 fare are more common than you might think, making taxi scams a popular choice for some. Be sure that you never take a ride from anyone that offers you one inside of an airport or train station, and before you get in the car, be sure that you establish the flat rate before you drive off.
You can eat well affordably here, so take advantage of it. With the currency conversion currently standing at The 1 Romanian New Lei (Lei1) = US$0.31 / £0.21/ €0.24, you should be able to find a decent price if you avoid the obvious tourist traps.
There is a plethora of fine dining available, as well as cheap student-oriented spots that might be perfect for a quick meal on the go. Most restaurants could be considered Gay-friendly, but keep in mind that you are visiting a hugely conservative area that is still adjusting to a rising acceptance of LGBT lifestyles.
If you missed the parade and all of the satellite events that came with it including workshops, drag shows, and parties, never fear: Gay Bucharest is still bumpin'. With no licensing hours, clubs tend to stay open until the wee hours of the morning. There is also no legal drinking age, although you must be over 18 in order to purchase alcohol. Depending on where you have rented your Bucharest accommodation, you should be able to club hop easily as the downtown core is full of bars that stand shoulder to shoulder.
Gay bars have sprung up since about 2000 with mixed results. Online bulleting boards indicate that many have become hetero strip clubs or have simply disappeared. Your best bet is Purple, a bar that advertises right on the front page of ACCEPT and seems to be just about the best visible and well organized club available right now. With drag events, karaoke, and other special events coming fairly regularly, you're guaranteed a good time at this bar.
Purple: 27 Nerva Tralan Street
64 Logofat Tautu Street
Tel.: 0771.693.565 or 0771.693.545
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
The Soho Lounge is open 6:00-1:00a.m. on weeknights, 6:00-4:00a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. This is a decent place to go out and grab a drink, this lounge features a range of events and special nights which might entic - sailor's dress up party is on the roster. Take note of the strict dress code - be sure to dash back to your Bucharest apartements and switch into your best togs before heading out to this bar. Expect the usual thudding Euro-beats and electronica mixed with a little bit of cheesy disco, just to keep things interesting.
Soho/Soho Lounge: Strada Bacani 3 (3 Bacani Street)
The Corner Club is also an option, open Wednesday to Sunday, 8:00p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This bar is a gay-friendly nightspot, and a few eye-catching events seem to be on the horizon.
Corner Club: Strada Visarion Nr.25 (25 Visarion Street)
Tel.: 0724.832.458 & 0769.966.325