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Gay Dignity in Budapest as Security Services Thwart Homophobic Extremists 

 

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■ The Hungarian riot police were out in force as they successfully protected the Budapest Dignity March from threatened violent disruption.
photo: UK Gay News
 


BUDAPEST, September 5, 2009 – More than 2,000 people took part in Budapest’s “Gay Dignity” march this afternoon.  And the rain that was supposed to have dampened the march stayed away, replaced by brilliant sunshine.

There here was not a protester in sight, thanks to a massive security operation in the Hungarian capital.

But as marchers assembled in Heroes Square, on man, aged in his mid-40s, is believed to have infiltrated the heavy, but discrete, security.

He was seen popping balloons and trying to snatch flags that marchers had.

“He came up to me because I was carrying a small pink Union Flag,” Anthony Daley from England told UK Gay News.

“I didn’t understand what he was saying, but it soon became obvious that he was trying to snatch the flag and rip it up.

“He wasn’t being forceful or aggressive, so no one really noticed him until he popped a couple of balloons that someone was carrying.  The sound of balloons popping made others realise what was happening.  He tried to pop further balloons and was then booed by onlookers which frightend him away.”

Neo-Nazi’s and other extreme right-wing groups had threatened to disrupt the march.  But, while there were a few scuffles for the police to deal with, they were at least 100 metres from the route of the march.

There was, however, a ‘price to pay’, apart from the nervousness of the Budapest gay community.

There were no onlookers and well-wishers along the route which was cordoned off a block each side of Andrássy Road, one of the main streets of the city.

So the “Gay Dignity” march became more of a TV event, as far as any campaigning directly to the public for LGBT rights is concerned.  And TV news later in the day covered the march in considerable depth.

Prior to the march setting off, the marchers were addressed by representatives of the International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe.

“The reason we are here today is to let you know that you are not alone in your struggle for equality and respect ... and your struggle against violence and intimidation,” Juris Lavrikovs, a Latvian who is now based in ILGA-Europe’s Brussels headquarters, told marchers.

“Let’s march with pride, dignity and determination.  Let’s show Hungary and the whole of Europe that violence, threats and intimidation will not defeat us,” he added.

Mr. Lavrikovs pointed out that for many years, Hungary was a ‘role model’ for many countries and many LGBT people, especially in Eastern and Central Europe.

“What is happening recently here is worrying not just for you, it is worrying for all of Europe.

Raise of racist and homophobic sentiments here in Hungary is not just a problem for Hungary, it is a problem for all Europe.

“Therefore, we are here today to march with you, to let you know that the hearts and minds of millions of Europeans are with you today.

“Let’s march with pride, dignity and determination.  Let’s show Hungary and the whole Europe, that violence, threats and intimidation will not defeat us.

“Because we know – the future of Hungary and Europe lies not in hatred, violence and division, it lies in unity, respect and equality!”

Paata Sabelashvilli, a member of the ILGA-Europe executive board and the president of the Inclusive Foundation in Georgia, said he was pleased to be in Budapest to show his solidarity with the Hungarian LGBT community.

“When I heard of the violent attacks against Pride marches in recent years, I was shocked,” he said.

“I could not imagine this would ever happen in Budapest, the city where I lived and studied at Central European University 8 years ago … where I ‘came out’, … I got involved in LGBT activism … [and] where my life was changed dramatically.

“Yes it was here where I first felt proud of who I was.  And today I am bringing this pride back to you, to support you and cheer you up.

“Be proud and never give up!”

Among the many from across Europe who were in Budapest for the Gay Dignity March was a 100-strong contingent from Austria, who made their way to the Hungarian capital by bus.

And the bought with them a 60 metre long Rainbow Flag, borrowed from AGPRO (the Austrian Gay Professionals(, that was carried at the front of the march.

Also attending from Vienna was Kirt Krickler, the human rights ordinator on the board of EPOA, the European Pride Organisers Association).

SEE ALSO

Budapest Gay Dignity March 2009 in Pictures. Three pages of photographs from today's Gay Dignity March in Budapest. [There will be a full report later]  (UK Gay News, September 5, 2009)

Amnesty Supporters Join Budapest Gay Pride March in Solidarity.  Rainbow flag will fly from British Embassy on “Gay Dignity Day”   “I wish you all a happy and peaceful celebration of Budapest Pride” – British Ambassador.  (UK Gay News, September 4, 2009)

Whoopi Goldberg’s Video Message to Hungary Ahead of Saturday’s Budapest Gay Pride (in Hungarian)  (UK Gay News, Aug 31, 2009)

Thirteen Embassies in Hungary Express Support of Budapest Gay Pride.  Thirteen Embassies, representing countries on four continents, have issued a joint statement supporting Budapest Pride Festival, which culminates with a parade in the Hungarian capital next Saturday afternoon.  (UK Gay News, Aug 31, 2009)

 

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Posted: 5 Sep 2009 at 22:00 (UK time)
updated 7 Sep at 16:00

   
             
       

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