On Saturday, anger at Hungary’s right-wing policies erupted and filled Budapest’s streets as thousands marched in the annual Budapest Pride Parade.
March organizers anticipated record attendance at the event and asked participants to voice their disapproval of recent actions taken by Viktor Orban, populist prime minister, to stigmatize Central European sexual minorities.
Jojo Majercsik, spokesperson for Budapest Pride, stated that this year’s march was not only a celebration of the LGBT movement’s historical struggles but also a protest against Orban’s current policies towards gay, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and other queer people.
Majercsik stated to The Associated Press that many LGBTQ people feel afraid and don’t believe they have a place or a way forward in the country.
After a controversial June law by Hungary’s parliament, which prohibited minors from viewing content that depicts homosexuality and gender change, the march was organized. These measures were attached to a bill that allows for harsher punishments for pedophiles.
The government of Hungary claims its policies are designed to protect children. Critics of the legislation say it is similar to Russia’s gay propaganda laws of 2013. They also claim that it confuses homosexuality and pedophilia in an attempt to mobilize conservative voters ahead to next spring’s elections.
The legislation was met with fierce opposition by many politicians in the European Union, of which Hungary is a member. Two separate legal proceedings were launched by the Executive Commission of the 27-nation bloc against Hungary’s government over what it called violations of LGBT rights.
Saturday’s march passed through Budapest’s center and crossed the Danube River to cross the bridge that connects the two halves of the city, the Liberty Bridge.
Mira Nagy (16 years old) is a Pride attendee from Hungary and a member of the LGBT community in Hungary. She said that this year’s Pride march holds a special meaning.
She stated that this year was more important because there are now real stakes. “Our situation is very bad… I plan to leave Hungary if it gets worse.”
The law also requires that only civic organizations approved by the government can provide sexual education in schools, and limits the availability of media content and literature to minors that discusses sexual orientation.
Anasztazia Olsz, a Pride marcher, stated that this would prevent young people accessing valuable information and validation about their sexual orientation.