by Vasile Vasiliev

The Moldovan society is a young one. Rule of law, gender equality and diversity are relatively new things in our society. At the same time, the US has a great history in understanding, embracing and developing these principles. So inviting a US legal professional to advocate and explain how these principles work in a democratic society was a no-brainer.
There were a couple of main reasons for initiating this project.


First and foremost, the protection of human rights is an indispensable part of any civilized society. The Moldova society strives to be more liberal and tries to embrace the European (and why not, the American) values when it comes to the rule of law, diversity and gender equality.


Secondly, in our European Integration path we set legislative milestones that are not yet met. Here I would like to mention the inequality between LGBTQ people and the rest of the society, or the impossibility to adopt the law on hate speech and incitement to discrimination.


Thirdly, it is beneficial for the judiciary and the society in general to be exposed to more liberal and modern views.
And taking into account that, judges (and lawyers, in general) are at the forefront of judicial activism – it is imperative to educate them about minority rights, diversity and modern approaches towards rule of law.

The goals of the project were:

  • To educate the judiciary on human rights, diversity and gender equality.
  • To provide NGO’s with relevant information and support.
  • To advocate for legal and legislative changes in the LGBTQ and gender equality fields.
  • To spread awareness in the society on these topics.
  • To empower and inspire young people to be more open-minded towards diversity and gender equality.

Project Objectives:

Within this project we had a series of events dedicated to the independence of the judiciary and judges’ code of ethics, women empowerment and LGBTQ rights.

  • 15 future judges and 60 law students at the lectures at the National Institute of Justice (with future judges) and the State University of Moldova on the topic of independence of the judiciary and judges’ code of ethics, which also covered diversity, gender equality and the rights sexual minorities from the perspective of promotion and protection of human rights.
  • Meetings with representatives of the judiciary (Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, ) and Government (Ministry of Justice) with the objective to advocate for changes (legal/legislative) in the fields of diversity, gender equality and LGBT rights.
  • Meetings with LGBT NGO’s and Women Empowerment institutions with a view of providing support and information on new legal perspectives on human rights related problems in the fields of diversity, gender equality and LGBT rights.
  • 50 young law students at the America House presentation on women empowerment through law, which had the goal to inspire young women to be more active and choose a legal profession in the future.
    The main impact should be felt by the future judges and lawyers (NIJ and SUM) and the participants at the America House presentation on women empowerment through law. More than 120 people participated in these 3 events and got the chance to find out more about the US judicial system, how should lawyers behave, why is it important to choose a legal profession, the means to fight for your rights, etc.
    I think that most of those impacted by this project will have a long-lasting memory about the time when a US justice from Hawaii came to Moldova and explained how society should view the judiciary, women right and the LGBTQ community.

Within this project we had a series of events dedicated to the independence of the judiciary and judges’ code of ethics, women empowerment and LGBTQ rights.
At the Constitutional Court of Moldova, Justice McKenna had a discussion with the justices of the Court on the American judiciary (at the Federal and State levels), independence and accountability of judges.
Then Justice McKenna had lectures at the State University of Moldova, with law faculty students, and at the National Institute of Justice, with future judges, on the topic of independence of the judiciary and judges’ code of ethics, which also covered diversity, gender equality and the rights of sexual minorities from the perspective of promoting and protecting human rights.


Ms McKenna had a meeting with the leaders of the LGBTQ community in Moldova and discussed the current state of affairs in this area, especially when it comes to the legal framework that protects diversity. Also, she participated at a panel discussion on the topic “Should I leave so that I could be myself?”, where she presented her personal experiences on how and through which means a member of the LGBTQ community should advocate a more diverse society.


Sabrina McKenna also advocated for women empowerment, which remains a very much discussed topic in Moldova since here we have a patriarchal society. She met with UN Women and leaders of the civil society, with whom she discussed the importance of women in the justice system, how sexual violence should be addressed and what are the best practices in advocating for women empowerment. Also, Sabrina had the chance to make a presentation at America House, in front of more than 40 young lawyers, on women empowerment through law, explaining the need for more active women and how to deal with issues regarding gender equality and diversity. It was a great occasion to inspire young women to be more active and choose a legal profession in the future.

This project had an important impact on society in general, and young/future lawyers, in particular.
The lectures were aimed at changing the perspective of young/future lawyers on judicial independence, gender equality and diversity (since these topic are not even discussed in universities) and the participation in different events represented a great opportunity to advocate for the rights of sexual minorities and gender equality.
So, besides awareness, advocacy and changing views, this project had an impact on our relations with the American Judiciary, and I hope this will be a great opportunity to make new ties.
From a quantitative standpoint it is important to point out that more than 200 people were impacted by the meetings, presentations, lectures and conferences.
From a qualitative standpoint, i could mention the:

  • Legislative impact (as part of exchanging views and experiences, as well as exposure in the media);
  • Better understanding of diversity and gender equality (for all the target groups), and as a result – better and wider national advocacy, better future court judgments and just more active discussions on these topics.