Thousands fight for LGBTQ rights in Budapest’s largest pride parade | LGBTQ News

Thousands of Hungarians took part in Budapest’s biggest pride parade on Saturday as Prime Minister Viktor Orban took a series of anti-gay measures, which triggered tensions.

After parliament passed the “anti-pedophilia” law last month, Orban’s critics in the country and in Brussels accused him of conflating pedophilia with homosexuality.

“Many people are frustrated with the new law and anti-gay propaganda,” Johanna Majesik, a spokesperson for the Budapest Pride organizers, told AFP.

“They want to express their support for the LGBTQ community,” Majercsik said, adding that this year’s Pride is the largest in its 26-year history.

According to Agence France-Presse, more than 10,000 people participated in the colorful parade, which moved along a main boulevard and then crossed the Danube to a park.

Although Orban described the bill as protecting children, LGBTQ leaders stated that the bill stigmatized homosexuals and aimed to support the prime minister’s right-wing support before next year’s election.

People take part in the Budapest Pride Parade in Budapest [Marton Monus/Reuters]

“I have never participated in Pride before, even though I have always supported LGBTQ people and understand their problems,” said Zsofi Varadi, 46-year-old mother of two children, before putting on a rainbow-colored T-shirt.

“But this year I am really angry because there is too much publicity against them and they need to see a lot of people supporting them,” Varadi told AFP before going to the peaceful end of the parade.

Rainbow flags were hung on several balconies of buildings along the route, and placards carried by the parade mocked Orban and his ruling party Fidesz, whose lawmakers introduced the bill in Parliament.

Orban said on Wednesday that after the European Commission takes legal action against Budapest on the measure, a national vote will be held to measure domestic support for the law.

Counter demo

A group of about 200 counter-demonstrators along the way held up banners that read “Stop LGBTQ Pedophilia” and chanted homophobic insults in the police team that separated them from the marchers.

“The Anti-Pedophile Act provides a weapon for patriots like us to protect our children from deviant people like them,” a spokesperson told counter-demonstrators through a megaphone.

Since the law was approved by the Fidesz-led parliament on June 15, local media have reported several homophobic attacks, and LGBTQ activists have warned of growing fear in their communities.

Atul, a 16-year-old marcher, said: “To be honest, being a gender fluid person, you may be beaten or something like that, it’s a bit scary.”

24-year-old Luca Dudits said: “The pride march in Eastern Europe is not so much a celebration as a protest. There are more protests every year.”

“It is more important than ever to take the streets together in this fight for the rights and freedom of LGBTQ people,” Duditz told AFP.

A group of counter-demonstrators held up banners that read “Stop LGBTQ Pedophilia” [Marton Monus/Reuters]

After more than 40 embassies and foreign cultural institutions issued a joint statement supporting LGBTQ rights earlier this week, dozens of ambassadors in the Hungarian capital also participated in the parade.

The latest legislation is seen by its supporters as part of Orban’s project since he came to power in 2010 to reshape Hungary as a so-called “non-liberal” social conservative fortress.

The latest law was initially limited to tougher actions against child sexual abuse, but its final version prohibits the “portrayal or promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment for teenagers under the age of 18.

The referendum called by Orban will include five questions, including asking citizens whether they agree to allow schools to “talk to their children about sex without their consent.”

It will also ask participants whether they support “promoting the treatment of minors’ sex change” or “children’s unrestricted access to harmful content”.

The date of the referendum has not yet been determined.

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