Thousands of Hungarians took part in the Pride in Budapest on Saturday, expressing their solidarity with the country's LOATKI + community. The dynamic participation in the march is a protest against the government rhetoric and the new legislation that prohibits the depiction of gay people in educational materials.
It is recalled that Hungary's partners in the European Union have condemned the law, with the Commission launching infringement proceedings against the country.
The Pride Parade was attended by members of the European Parliament. Despite the tension, the festive mood prevailed along the way, with participants dancing to Abba songs and waving rainbow flags, Politico reports. However, there was also a sense among the participants – including many high school students – that it was an act of disobedience.
“In the last two years, we have experienced a government crackdown on the LGBTQI + community, hate speech and also the passage of restrictive legislation on transgender rights, adoption, and more recently, a Russian-style propaganda law,” said Tamás D of the board of the Háttér Society, a Hungarian human rights group.
“A lot of people came here to show their support and to show that not everyone thinks like our government,” he said. “I feel very good that so many people showed up,” he added.
The organizers estimated the attendance at about 30,000 people.
Speaking to Politico, many teens explained that it was the controversial legislation that portrayed homosexuals in educational materials that prompted them to join a Pride march for the first time.
Small far-right groups, some of them wearing “Defend Europe” T-shirts, staged their own protests. Pride participants were also waiting near the banks of the Danube with large placards reading “Stop LGBT” and launching insults.
Pride participants responded with cheers and slogans such as “Love is a human right.” Police kept the two sides at bay. There were no immediate reports of violence.
The issue of LGBTQI + community rights is expected to remain high on Hungary's political agenda ahead of next year's key parliamentary elections.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Victor Orban unexpectedly called for a referendum on five questions about the rights of homosexuals and transgender people. Opponents have criticized the move as an attempt to divert public attention from other issues that have put pressure on his nationalist government, such as recent revelations that government critics' phones were monitored by the controversial Pegasus surveillance software, the scandal of which is shocking. international community.