The first Budapest Pride with no barriers
According to the rough estimate of the organisers, around 7000 people attended the 24th Budapest Pride Parade last Saturday. For the first time ever, there were no barriers around the route, instead, the 25 counter-protesters were cordoned off.
Poet Orsolya Karafiáth was the first to speak at the starting point on Kossuth Square, and she noted that Pride is not just a party, it is also a demonstration for equal rights, and sociologist Dezső Máté said that prejudice has taken over the space for questions and openness, and urged opposition parties to initiate a referendum about the constitutional definition of the family, as the current one is wrong - Hungary's Fundamental Law legally excludes any non-traditional families as it bases the definition of the family on marriage, which it describes as a union of a man and a woman.
"Pride is the party where we come to have a good time politically. We are not afraid, we will not give up, and the more they attack us, the louder we will get."
said Kama Peksa, spokesperson of Budapest Pride after noting that now it's the LGBTQ community's turn to be picked on. She said that as the day of the march was getting closer, homophobic statements became ever more frequent, and she called the environment created by the Fidesz government "outrageous and disgusting."
What she's referring to is that earlier in May, during the EP campaign, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament and founding member of Fidesz László Kövér drew parallels between paedophilia and same-sex couples wanting to adopt children, which was reinforced days later by Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyás. Later in June, Fidesz lawmaker István Boldog urged other MPs in Parliament to do whatever it takes to prevent Budapest Pride from taking place. There were also several incidents when extremists disrupted programs of Pride Month, the series of events leading up to the march.
With these precedents, it's no wonder that this year's Budapest Pride was more political than it usually is - the march began with the tongue-in-cheek chant of "Thank you, Laci" as organisers unfolded the giant rainbow flag that they could afford after receiving many donations following the Speaker's blatantly homophobic remarks. Despite all this, there were only a handful of counter-protesters, 25 to be exact, so the crowd could march freely as opposed to previous years when they were only allowed to do that behind double police barriers.
In the end, the 24th Budapest Pride went down without any atrocities, and despite the shadow of increasing homophobia in the public discourse, the 7000 participants have sent a clear message:
They are not afraid.
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