Negotiations over Budapest Pride to resume tomorrow

Tony Grew June 12, 2008
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The chief of police in the Hungarian capital Budapest has reconsidered his ban on a Pride event in the city, and discussions about the route will take place tomorrow.

In a statement to the press Gabor Toth said he had revoked his earlier decision.

The police chief claims that a the march on July 5th should be substituted for a static gathering.

Last year at Budapest Pride, a gang of ultra-nationalists, skinheads and fascists attacked marchers along the 7km (4.3 mile) route.

The police initially argued that that because of what gay group Patent called “changes in the traffic situation of the city” there should be no march this year.

“Because of these uncertainties, Patent suggests that all interested parties continue their efforts to pressure the Hungarian authorities until further notice,” the group said in a statement this afternoon.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, accused the police of making up excuses not to police the march.

“We consider his decision (to ban the march) as a sign of giving in to the threats of ultra nationalists,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

At last year’s Pride in Budapest skinheads and fascists 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, condemned the incidents as “brutal, unacceptable, and outrageous.”

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.

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