Budapest police praised by Pride organisers
This weekend’s Budapest Pride experienced full support from police amid violent fascist attacks, said organisers.
An estimated 1,500 people participated in the LGBT solidarity demonstration, despite threats of violence and actual attacks at the event.
The police protection was especially welcomed as the Budapest chief of police had originally tried to ban Pride, claiming that it would interfere with traffic.
SWAT officers called in from all over Hungary followed the march and intervened when necessary.
“It was great to see the police protecting us, after the police chief tried to ban the march,” said Gábor Kuszing of gay rights group Patent Association.
The march was supposed to end in a cordoned-off area where a concert was going to take place.
It was cancelled as a neo-Nazi mob had beaten up the performer and police were forced to use tear gas and a water cannon to clear the route for marchers to leave.
The marchers were then escorted by police to nearby metro station as the mob was dispersed.
LGBT organisers saluted police for protecting the Pride March after last year’s disappointing police inactivity.
“We lost a yearly celebration last year but we gained solidarity and legal protection for our right to peaceful assembly,” Mr Kuszing said.
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Pride in Budapest in 2007 was plagued by skinheads and fascists shouting abuse and throwing items such as beer bombs, smoke bombs and petrol bombs at the peaceful marchers.
Pride organisers denounced police inaction and this year’s attempt to ban the event was seen as giving in to the threats of ultra-nationalists.
After negotiations and international pressure the chief of police lifted the ban and gave the go ahead for the one mile march.
Four individual counter attacks were launched against protesters attempting to disrupt the event.
Although organisers had warned participants to carry large umbrellas and wear helmets, most people came without such protection.
“There was one street where literally a shower of eggs and stones was poured on us,” said Mr Kuszing. Last week two gay businesses in Budapest were attacked with petrol bombs.