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HUNGARY

Police Criticised After Budapest Gay Bar Set on Fire

 

It’s attempted murder not vandalism, gay activists tell police
 

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BUDAPEST, June 28, 2008  –  Gay groups in Hungary have criticised Budapest police in the aftermath of the torching of a gay bar in the city in the early hours of yesterday.

Police are investigating the fire as vandalism, but the LGBT community groups are demanding that an attempted murder investigation should be launched.

At about 3am, unidentified perpetrators threw a petrol bomb into Action, a gay bar in the centre of Budapest.

The front room of the small bar caught fire quickly as it was decorated with curtains.  One of the ten or so guests of the bar put out the fire with an extinguisher and so saved everyone’s lives; no one was injured.

Shortly before the attack, someone called the bar and inquired if there were any guests and how long the bar would be open.

Then the caller went on to threaten to attack the bar and the attack took place.

Hungarian LGBT organisations issued a joint statement last night expressing their astonishment at how the police are downplaying the case as vandalism instead of calling it attempted murder.

“Vandalism is when you spray paint on a wall,” said Gábor Kuszing of Patent, one of the signatory organisations.

“We are afraid that the police will not investigate the case with due diligence, and this is a message that serious crimes against LGBT people will be tolerated,” he added.

Further attacks against gay bars and businesses are expected as a right-wing website published the addresses of gay businesses a few hours before the attack and suggested them as targets.

The attack comes after repeated threats against the Gay Pride march from right-wing groups during the last few weeks.

Some four counter-demonstrations are expected to take place against the gay pride march next Saturday (July 5), and police estimate that attacks against this year’s pride will be “more brutal” than last year.

Last year, right-wing counter-demonstrators attacked the peaceful Pride March with eggs, bottles and Molotov-cocktails and 11 persons were injured in ‘queer-bashings’ later that night.

“Last year’s events and these threats have filled the LGBT community with fear,” said Mr. Kuszing.  “My friends and family are afraid to come to the pride march and we had to introduce strict security regulations such as checking people’s clothes and bags.”

The police have promised effective protection not only for the march but also for the after-parties.

They have also decided to keep a closer eye on gay establishments from now on especially during the LGBT festival, which will take place next week.

The full statement

We have been appalled to learn that the police started investigation for the crime of vandalism against the unknown perpetrators who set fire to a gay bar with a petrol bomb in downtown Budapest at about 3 a.m. on 27 June 2008.  Patent’s position is that the attack against the gay bar was attempted murder, as the perpetrators checked the fact that there were people in the bar and the opening hours of the bar over the phone before they set fire to it.  It is only by luck and the presence of mind of those in the bar that no one was hurt; the action was suitable to cause death.

By minimising the case as vandalism, the police are undermining the ethical condemnation of a hate crime against LGBT people, are weakening LGBT people’s legal security and indirectly encourage further attacks.  Therefore we are calling on the police of the 5th district of Budapest, in charge of the case, to conduct investigations for attempted murder, and with due diligence corresponding to the gravity of the crime.

The attempted murder is a result of the hate campaign that certain right-wing groups, and the Catholic church and conservative politicians have been conducting against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people and the LGBT festival in the past few weeks.  This case again points to the necessity for specific legislation against hate crimes.

We are calling on the citizens of Hungary who support the rule of law and democracy, and human rights organisations to join the LGBT Pride March at Erzsébet tér, Budapest at 3 p.m. on July 5 as a protest against right-wing attacks threatening various minorities in recent months.

The statement was signed by:

Atlasz LGBT Sports Association
Southern Plains Gay Association
For Each Other East Hungary Gay Association
Flamingo Circle
Fresh Thought Youth Organisation
Editorial office of gay.hu
Háttér Support Society for Gays and Lesbians
Labrisz Lesbian Association
Lambda Budapest Association
Editorial office of Mások
Editorial office of Na végre!
Patent Association
pride.hu
Szimpozion Association
Szivárvány Misszió Foundation

SEE ALSO

Police Approve Budapest Gay Pride March The chief of Budapest police has today reversed his decision earlier this week to bam the city’s Gay Pride march next month.  (UK Gay News, June 12, 2008)

European Fury at Gay Pride March Ban.  There has been anger today in the European Parliament over the ban on Budapest Gay Pride by the city’s police chief Dr. Gábor Tóth for traffic congestion reasons.  (UK Gay News, June 12, 2008)

Police Chief Bans Budapest Gay Pride.  Budapest police chief Dr. Gábor Tóth has banned the Gay Pride March, it emerged last night.  The march, which Dr. Tóth said would disrupt traffic in the city, was scheduled to take place on Saturday July 5 on Andrássy, one of Budapest’s main streets.  (UK Gay News, June 12, 2008)

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.  

Posted: 28 June 2008 at 11:00 (UK time)

 



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