The LGBTQ community in Budapest, Hungary, face more challenges as their Pride was disrupted by far-right extremists.
Celebrating its 25th year anniversary later than planned because of the pandemic, the Budapest Pride Festival was attacked by a group of 20 extremists who descended upon the Auróra convention centre, home to the Pride offices.
Protestors gathered outside, trying to gain entry and when denied, physically assaulted an event organiser. Police were called, forcing back the extremists who then began to wail and chant for the redemption of all those going into the town centre for Pride celebrations.
Last year’s disruption was even more severe, as the extremists forced entry, heckled organisers and even left a dead rat in the venue’s bathroom.
This disruption is an annual event, carried out by ‘Budaházys’, who are followers of their namesake György Budaházy. György, a far-right nationalist politician, was found guilty in 2016 of a myriad of terrorism offences including the petrol bombing of a gay bar.
The numbers of Budaházys on the street attempting to inflict actual violence on LGBTQ events may be steadily declining, according to event organisers, but their political influence continues to yield worrying consequences.
As of last year, the attitude of local police became more defensive of LGBTQ rights as an opposition MP won the municipal elections.
Speaking exclusively to OutNewsGlobal Rémy Bonny, a Belgian political scientist who covers LGBTQ discrimination in Central and Eastern Europe told me, “You [can] see there’s an increase in well-organised and structured attacks against the LGBTI-community.
“While the local government tries to help the LGBTQ+ community, the national government has made it a priority to dehumanise the whole community. And while you would assume the EU would intervene in such situations – the European Commission stays silent.”
The EU’s reputation with its LGBTQ allies takes a hit
Rémy tells me that the opposition’s stance on helping the LGBTQ community is being combatted in more devious, less obvious ways. He continued, “Earlier this week, posters were hung all around Budapest with the logo of Budapest Pride, which were not from Budapest Pride and nobody knows their origin. But they are obviously made to make the LGBTQ community look bad.”
Fidesz, the ruling party of Hungary led by Victor Orbán, is a national-conservative right-wing party. Their heavy focus on “traditional values” regularly veers off into hate speech. Last year the party called for Pride to be outlawed as it promoted “open sexual aberrations”.
Orbán made more intolerant remarks during this year’s Pride, ‘Western Europe gave up on Christian Europe, […] and instead experiments with godless cosmos, rainbow families, migration and open societies.”
On 14th August, the opening day of the festival, other far right protestors scaled a political opposition building, removing its rainbow flag, trampling over it and setting fire to it. The news circulated on a pro-government website which praised the actions of the extremists:
“That’s how it’s done!” and “It wasn’t up for half a day!” read the captions on the news outlet’s Facebook timeline.
Previous affronts to the LGBTQ community occurred on 31st March , the International Transgender Day Of Visibility, as the deputy prime minister Zsolt Semjén proposed new legislation which would ban trans Hungarians from amending their name and gender on official documents: a particularly oppressive move in a country where showing ID is common and often enforced.
An opposition politician, Bernadett Szél, called the decision “evil” and a “step back in time”, before being censored by the Hungarian parliament when expressing concern on behalf of the community. Amnesty International concurred, stating the decision drops Hungary “back to the dark ages”.
Hungary, like Poland, and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly dealing with a societal rise in homophobic and prejudicial sentiments. Worryingly, instead of condemning their actions, the governments of these respective nations actively encourage intolerance, as the difference between the right and the far-right grows ever smaller.