The Human Rights Watch group is calling on Hungarian authorities to reverse a decision which refused Pride organisers permission to hold a march on their chosen route in Budapest later this year.
The Hungarian police are being called on to allow the 2012 Pride March to take the organisers’ chosen route on 7 July.
Human Rights Watch further called on the police to facilitate the peaceful passage of the Pride March, protect marchers’ safety and stop disruption to the event by protesters.
On April 6, the Budapest police rejected the event’s chosen route, saying it would be impossible to redirect traffic around the Pride march.
Human Rights Watch said the route was, however, commonly used for other marches in Budapest, saying government supporters had held a Peace March for Hungary along the same path in January.
Lydia Gall, Eastern Europe and Balkans researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “Traffic hasn’t stopped other marches from going ahead on the same route.
“This is a flimsy pretext to stop LGBT people from exercising the same rights as everyone else.”
Last year, the Budapest Metropolitan Court overruled a police decision to deny an application to extend the route of the 2011 Budapest Gay Pride March to the parliament building. The police had blamed their decision on concerns over traffic disruption then too, although campaigners said the decision was politically motivated.
The Rainbow Mission Foundation had announced that the march would take place along a route from City Park to Alkotmany Street along Andrassy Avenue, a major thoroughfare. The organizers and a local human rights organization have appealed the police decision to the Budapest Metropolitan Court.
In 2008, Budapest police had denied a permit for a gay pride march on similar grounds but withdrew its objections following a letter from 15 LGBT organizations and Gabor Demszky, the Budapest mayor at the time.
Human Rights Watch added that blocking free assembly violates Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The 2012 Pride March aims to highlight the diversity of the LGBT community in Hungary as part of the Budapest Pride Film and Cultural Festival, whose stated objective is to raise awareness about discrimination faced by gay and transgender people.
Human Rights Watch also drew attention to recommendations made in 2010 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. These oblige Hungary and other member states to “protect and ensure the respect of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons who wish to assemble and express themselves, even if their views are unpopular or not shared by the majority of the population.”
They also specify that “local authorities, the courts, the police and national human rights structures, including ombudspersons thus have a duty to protect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly also of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and organisations defending such persons’ rights.”
Ms Gall added: “Banning the Pride March would only worsen the social marginalization of the already vulnerable LGBT community in Hungary.
“Instead of perpetuating discrimination, Hungary’s authorities should take an active stance on behalf of one of the most vulnerable groups in society and publicly denounce anti-LGBT sentiments.”