Outrage as Budapest Pride banned by police
By Tony Grew • June 12, 2008 – 13:20
Gay rights activists have reacted angrily to news that the chief of police in Budapest has decided that a Pride march planned for July 5th will interfere with traffic and therefore will not go ahead.
The Europe branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association said it is “appalled” by the decision.
ILGA-Europe called on the police chief, Gabor Toth, to change his decision and back Pride.
At last year’s Pride in Budapest skinheads and fascists massed along the 7km (4.3 mile) route of the march for gay rights. They threw eggs and bottles filled with sand at the marchers. Later that evening almost a dozen gay people were set upon and beaten. Pride organisers said that the police had failed to take appropriate action: “Contrary to a number of reports and the statement of the Interior Ministry, items capable of causing grievous bodily harm were thrown at the marchers: beer bottles, smoke bombs and Molotov cocktails,” they said.
“The counter-demonstrators continuously shouted: “faggots into the Danube, followed by the Jews,” “soap factory” and “filthy faggots.”
“In the neighbourhood of the event closing the parade dozens of attacks on gays by lingering counter-demonstrators took place.”
On that occasion the Prime Minister of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsany, utterly condemned the incidents as “brutal, unacceptable, and outrageous.”
Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said today: “We are appalled by the decision of the Budapest police chief. “We consider his decision as a sign of giving in to the threats of ultra nationalists. “The traffic hindrance explanation and an earlier suggestion to the LGBT
activists to organise a stationary event in an area remote from the city centre are just excuses for the unwillingness of the Budapest police chief to take his responsibilities seriously to ensure order.
“One of the main objectives of any LGBT Pride March is to raise visibility for the LGBT community and communicate the community’s concerns and issues to the wider public.
“The police should not be preoccupied with making their lives and jobs easier by banning the demonstrations or sending the participants away from the public. “It is the duty of the police to ensure that each citizen or group of citizens has a right to assemble, and express their view and opinions without interference.
“The law in Europe and Hungary on this subject is clear and the police are there to obey and enforce the law.”
Fascism has been on the rise in Hungary in recent years. In 2007 a far-right Hungarian political party, Jobbik, known for their anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and homophobic rhetoric, inducted the first members of its paramilitary wing, the Magyar Guard, outside the country’s Presidential palace in Budapest.
Jobbik supporters were among the people who attacked Pride. The founding members of Magyar Garda took oaths of allegance in front of over a thousand supporters of the Jobbik party waving red and white striped Arpad flags, similar to those used by the country’s pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime during the Second World War.