A gay rights group has filed discrimination charges against Romania's TAROM airline after the company allegedly excluded gays from a Valentine's Day discount offer for lovers, officials said Monday. The state-owned company offered travel discounts during February to couples traveling together, but the offer excluded gay couples, said Florin Buhuceanu, who heads Accept, Romania's main gay rights group.
Buhuceanu said he tried to purchase tickets for himself and his partner to Beirut, Lebanon, during the two-for-one sale, but the travel agency told him that people of the same sex didn't qualify for the discount package.
The travel company, Paralela 45, said TAROM issued written instructions that the discount applied to couples comprising a man and a woman, said Florentina Toader, a ticketing agent with the company.
Buhuceanu said another three gay couples were not allowed to take advantage of the offer. "It is not TAROM's business what sexual orientation the lovers have," said Buhuceanu. "TAROM is making a distinction between gays and heterosexuals."
He said his organization filed charges against TAROM with Romania's Anti-Discrimination Board, a state institution that enforces fair practices. The board said it was investigating the allegations and would discuss the case on Tuesday. "Such an offer would be illegal if it refers only to members of opposite
sexes," said board member Roxana Truinea.
She said the company faces a fine of up to $1,460 if found guilty of discrimination.
Buhuceanu said his organization would also sue the company in civil court to seek damages on behalf of couples who were refused the discount.
Homosexuality was considered a crime in Romania until 2001, when the government removed the offense from the penal code to comply with demands from the European Union, which Romania hopes to join in 2007. The country has passed a modern antidiscrimination act that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, age, ethnic or racial origin, and sexual orientation. TAROM did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. (AP)