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Budapest police braced for disruptions to Pride

Adrian McBreen June 26, 2008

Budapest’s police chief Gabor Toth is expecting harsher and more frequent disruption to the city’s Pride parade.

Nationalist leaders are inviting “Hungarian patriots” to “protect Hungary’s honour” from the international gay community on 5 July, according to the Budapest Times.

Earlier this month police decided to cancel this year’s parade only to reverse their decision within twenty-four hours following international condemnation.

The move to ban Pride 08 was widely seen as a reaction to last year’s parade when a dozen people, including a German couple, were beaten by skinheads with opponents throwing eggs, bottles and Molotov cocktails at marchers.

In a statement, Budapest’s mayor Gabor Demeszky said:

“In this situation every democrat must raise their voice against cowardly troublemakers and call on the police to do everything to ensure the protection of peaceful marchers and spectators.

“As city mayor it is my duty to stand up for all those who are persecuted in Budapest due to their affiliation, faith, or sexual orientation.”

A cross-European parade dubbed “Rainbow Rampage” leaves Brighton on Saturday and plans to stage a counter-march on the same route after the pride event.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Hungary in 1961 and the country was first among the former Communist bloc to hold a gay pride parade.

Most Hungarians believe homosexuals should be free to live according to their sexual orientation, just as long as they do so behind closed doors.

The police chief had claimed earlier this month that 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.

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.

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