7 Sep 2009

More News from Budapest Pride

This year the Pride march took place under extremely heavy police protection -police helicopter flying over the centre of town, lots of riot police, the main march avenue was fenced off, smaller streets leading towards the avenue were fenced off too. As a result the protesters and also other people willing to observe were prevented getting anywhere close to the march.

This was in complete contrast to the last time that Ilga-Europe attended the March in 2007 when Jobbik supporters, neo-nazis, religious protesters marched side by side infiltrating the march throwing fire bombs, smoke bombs, bottles filled with sand, eggs, excrement and spat at us. at the end of the march, we were huddled in to a refugee style camp locked away from the protesters. The police had not been expecting any trouble that year so were not prepared. Needless to say, that night ended up with a vicious attack on a lone gay man walking home.

This year, Paata and Juris from Ilga-Europe delivered speeches just before the march.

Juris said "The reason we are here today is to let you know that you are not alone in your struggle for equality and respect, your struggle against violence and intimidation. For many years Hungary was a role model for many countries and many LGBT people, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. What is happening recently here is worrying not just for you, its worrying for all 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! Thank you and have a great pride!"

Paata, a board member of Ilga-Europe and LGBT activist from Georgia said "Fellow activists, dear friends, It is my pleasure to be here with you today and show my solidarity as a representative of ILGA Europe. ILGA was founded over 30 years ago, and gay pride events have been staged since 40 years. But our fight for equal rights, dignity and respect had never stopped ever since. If we look through the century long history, we will not find any guarantee that progress in achieving equal rights cannot be reversed, neither is equality ultimately attainable task, it is achieved through elaborate effort and devotion. Indeed, not a single movement could achieve change without having fought for it day by day. And as I said, this fight is continuous and there always are good reasons for it. In fact, what we witness recently is a great setback in eastern parts of Europe in terms of ensuring equal rights of each and every citizen. Number of countries like Hungary have joined the EU, the place where it is hard to imagine such restrictions of civil liberties that have occurred in last couple of years. Depriving right to free assembly is at stake today in many EU countries. And we cannot be absolutely sure of what else can be challenged tomorrow? Free speech? Right to privacy? Our jobs? Our families? Or perhaps our very right to life? We cannot be sure whether the state and society decides to move to our bedrooms. We will never find this out unless this happens. And this will happen unless we stand here in solidarity with each other, lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans, intersex , queer and of course our straight sisters and brothers, who chose to stand by us and show their solidarity which is so crucial! When I heard of violent attacks against the pride marches in recent years I was shocked. I could not imagine this would ever happen in Budapest, the city where I have lived and studied at Central European University 8 years ago, where I came out, where I got involved in LGBT activism, where my life was changed dramatically. Yes it was here when 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! I wish you a great pride!"

Cary Jonson, the new Director of IGLHRC was also in Budapest for Pride. as was a former Prime Minister of Hungary.

Ilga-Europes message of support to Budapest Pride:

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