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Budapest Pride protest restrictive LGBTQ law

July 16, 2023

Thousands of people, including Western diplomats, participated in the Pride march in Hungary. It comes as the authorities implement a controversial law restricting the "display or promotion" of homosexuality.

People take part in the Pride parade in Budapest on July 15, 2023.
Critics of the anti-LGBTQ legislation say it stigmatizes homosexuality in HungaryImage: Marton Monus/dpa/picture alliance

LGBTQ people and their supporters marched through the streets of the Hungarian capital Budapest on Saturday, using the annual Pride event to vent their anger at the implementation of a a law curtailing the rights of sexual minorities in the country.

Pride organizer Jojo Majercsik said the controversial Child Protection Act, which came into force in 2021, is increasingly being used to fine and issue other penalties against those who disseminate LGBTQ content in Hungary

"You can now see how the propaganda law passed two years ago is being applied in practice and how the public discourse has become more angry," Majercsik said.

Ahead of the march on Friday, some 38 embassies, including the US and Germany, issued a joint statement, urging Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government to stop discriminatory laws and protect the minority community's rights.

Many diplomats, including the US ambassador to the country, took part in the march.

'Anti-propaganda' law 

The European Commission took Hungary to the European Court of Justice at the end of last year to reverse the law restricting access to information on LGBTQ issues

Despite this Orban's government, which prides itself on promoting Christian-conservative agenda and family values, stepped up its implementation. 

Earlier this week, a national bookseller was fined some $36,000 (€‎31,000) for displaying a popular LGBTQ graphic novel, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, in its youth section without the closed packaging which the law requires.

Even TV promotions for the Pride march faced restrictions due to the law.

Deemed unsuitable for audiences below 18 years of age, Hungary's media authorities banned their broadcast except between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Most channels did not take the risk of broadcasting them at all.

"It is now apparent how they are trying to limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the media world, in the world of movies, films and books," he added," Majercsik said.

Hungary's LGBTQ community to face even more pressure

What else happened at the Pride march?

Participants in the march waved rainbow flags, danced and cheered, walking through the streets of Budapest.

"The Pride (movement) should be the pioneer of freedom of expression, acceptance and equality," Gergely Varga, a marcher and makeup artist in his 30s said. 

"But unfortunately I have to say that being proud of being gay is not as accepted in Hungary as in the West."

A person takes part in the Pride parade in Budapest on July 15, 2023.
Participants in the march waved rainbow flags, danced and cheered, walking through the streets of BudapestImage: Marton Monus/dpa/picture alliance

David Vig, director at Amnesty International Hungary, said that in contrast to some countries in Western Europe and North America where Pride events are celebrations of LGBTQ history and culture, Budapest Pride is a way of protesting increasing crackdowns on the rights of the community.

"Unlike Pride marches in more happy countries of the world, this is really a human rights demonstration," he said.

rmt/lo (AP, Reuters)