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Hungary: Thousands march during Budapest Pride festival

July 23, 2022

The march comes a year after Hungary passed controversial anti-LGBTQ legislation.

- A person attends the Budapest Pride march in Budapest, Hungary,
Crowds gathered by the Danube in 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) temperatures Image: Marton Monus/REUTERS

Thousands took part in the annual Budapest Pride march on Saturday. Crowds gathered in sweltering temperatures to defend LGBTQ rights, a year after the passage of a widely criticized law viewed as a setback for the community. 

"It's a tool to divide people and pit them against each other," one person who attended the march told AFP news agency, referring to the law.

The bill was adopted in 2021. It banned the promotion and distribution of media for under-18s that features information on homosexuality and gender change.

"We are a backward society," a woman who attended the march to support her son told AFP.

"I cannot accept the fact that he is considered a second-class citizen in his own country," she added.

Embassies in Budapest supported Saturday's gathering with a joint statement issued ahead of the march. 

"We express our full support for members of the LGBTQI+ community and their rights to equality," the US Embassy said in a statement.

Counter protesters also gathered on one of the city's main bridges, carrying banners that compared homosexuality with pedophilia. 

People take part in the LGBTIQA+ Pride Parade in Budapest on July 23, 2022
The European Commission sued Hungary earlier this month over the law Image: Ferenc Isza/AFP

Orban espouses anti-LGBTQ rhetoric during Romania address 

Prime Minister Viktor Orban asserted his support for the government's position on the law during a speech in Romania on Saturday

"The father is a man, the mother is a woman, leave our children alone," he said, while rejecting "Western nonsense" regarding the issue. 

The bill was promoted by Orban's government as a measure to protect children. It banned the promotion and distribution of media that features information on homosexuality and gender transition for those under 18 years of age. 

Hungary has recognized civil unions between same-sex couples since 2018. Gender transition and non-binary gender recognition is still illegal in the country. 

asw/wd (AFP, Reuters)