We need your support to campaign against a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and in favor of equal family recognition and protection in Romania and at the European level. You can make a donation via CAF America, (ACCEPT has been evaluated by CAF) if you would like a tax deduction in the US, or otherwise directly to ACCEPT via PayPal or the following bank accounts with ING Bank Romania (Bank SWIFT Code: INGBROBU): American Dollars (USD): RO65INGB0001000129674013 Euro (EUR): RO11INGB0001000129670717 Romanian Lei (ROL): RO19INGB0001000129678915. If made until January 15, 2017, your financial contribution will triple, thanks to donors who wish to remain anonymous, who will provide a total match of 2:1 to the amount you donate. Thank you for your support! Please forward this message to your friends. More information about the ACCEPT work in 2016 and plans for 2017: ACCEPT was established 20 years ago in Romania, when consenting same-sex relations in private were a criminal offence. Through our advocacy, we have contributed to the repeal of the criminal provisions and the adoption of antidiscrimination legislation (2001) as well as to the visibility of LGBT people in Romania. 2016 had us face numerous challenges, but offered also great opportunities and accomplishments! ACCEPT won a European Court of Human Rights decision, sanctioning Romanian law enforcement for having failed to investigate hate crimes against LGBT individuals. As a result, all hate crime legislation, policies and practices need to be reviewed for a better protection. This is extremely important, as homophobic attitudes and societal tensions are on the rise in Romania, in the wake of US-sponsored initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in the Romanian Constitution. At Christmas in 2015, the Romanian Orthodox Church announced its support for a conservative initiative, led by pro-life and alt-right organizations. The Romanian organizations have wide confessional support to ban same-sex marriage in the Romanian Constitution, despite two simple facts: same-sex marriage is already prohibited in secondary legislation and same-sex couples lack any kind of legal protection in Romania. Therefore, this initiatives does nothing, but stir up hate in Romanian society, by focusing on denying LGBT individuals any possible future rights. Hate incidents, especially in school environments, have increased tenfold in the past year. This initiative is supported by US-based groups, namely Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defending Freedom. These organizations, whose clear mission is to dehumanize LGBT people and fight globally against LGBT human rights recognition, have provided legal counsel to the Romanian alt-right groups. They also got a letter from 13 US congressmen and women to the Romanian President, reaffirming the traditional family model. Only last month, their lead lawyer, Horatio Mihet, met with Romanian Members of Parliament, advocating against the LGBTI community here in Romania and pushing for a referendum to ban same-sex marriage to be organized at the same time with Romanian national parliamentary elections. ACCEPT’s advocacy efforts, widely supported by progressive civil society, contributed to Romanian politicians’ refusal to overlap the referendum with the elections, recognizing the threat to LGBT people’s security and wellbeing. Nonetheless, the referendum is still on the table this coming spring. Meanwhile, ACCEPT is leading the legal battle for equal family recognition in Romania. Since 2012, we have represented the Romanian-American married couple seeking to be recognized in Romania: Adrian Coman and Clai Hamilton. They have been together for the past 14 years and married in Belgium in 2010. Wishing to come back to Romania as a family in 2012, they received a blunt refusal on the grounds that Romania does not recognize same-sex marriage. Adrian, Clai and ACCEPT initiated a lawsuit against the Romanian Government, which resulted in our hearing by the Romanian Constitutional Court in 2016. A few weeks ago, the Romanian Constitutional Court decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union, seeking the definition of the term “spouses,” in EU free movement legislation – a first for both courts! His higher counsel in harmonizing European and national law is a great opportunity for Romanian and European same-sex couples alike, as a favorable decision will be mandatory in the EU Member States and enable at least a minimal form of same-sex family recognition for the purpose of travel and migration across the EU. We expect that much of 2017 will focus on preparing and litigating the case at EU level, in addition to providing legal and psychological counseling to other families and individuals.