BUDAPEST, June 12, 2008 –
Budapest police chief Dr. Gábor Tóth has banned the Gay Pride March, it
emerged last night.
The march, which Dr. Tóth said
would disrupt traffic in the city, was scheduled to take place on Saturday
July 5 on Andrássy, one of Budapest’s main streets.
In a joint statement last night,
LGBT groups in Budapest said they were “appalled” at the decision.
“The march is planned to proceed in
one of the central streets of Budapest, Andrássy, the site of several
earlier LGBT marches and other demonstrations,” the joint statement said.
“In our opinion and experience
dating back several years, the march that takes up half of the broad road
does not hinder the light Saturday afternoon traffic to an extent that would
warrant its banning. Thus the reason given by the police seems only a
pretext to make the march impossible, similar to Poland or Russia.
“The suggestion by the police to
hold a [static] event in a remote area would really only result in the event
being hidden away from publicity, making one of its aims, increasing the
visibility of LGBT people, impossible.”
Equally appalled is the European
arm of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
“We are appalled by the decision of
the Budapest police chief,” said Patricia Prendiville, executive director of
Speaking from Brussels, she
continued: “We consider his decision as a sign of giving in to the threats
of ultra nationalists. The traffic hindrance explanation and an earlier
suggestion to the LGBT activists to organise a stationary event in an area
remote from the city centre are just excuses for the unwillingness of the
Budapest police chief to take his responsibilities seriously to ensure
“One of the main objectives of any
LGBT Pride March is to raise visibility for the LGBT community and
communicate the community’s concerns and issues to the wider public.
“The police should not be
preoccupied with making their lives and jobs easier by banning the
demonstrations or sending the participants away from the public,” she
“It is the duty of the police to
ensure that each citizen or group of citizens has a right to assemble, and
express their view and opinions without interference. The law in Europe and
Hungary on this subject is clear and the police are there to obey and
enforce the law.”
Peaceful LGBT Pride Marches have
taken place in Budapest for years.
However, last year the participants
of Budapest Pride March experienced attacks by right wing extremists.
Unfortunately the situation where some individuals use violent and illegal
methods to limit the freedom of expression and assembly for LGBT people by
attacking them is not uncommon in a number of European countries.
The European Court of Human Rights
has extensive case-law on the issue of the freedom of assembly and
expression. The Court has confirmed that LGBT people are equally entitled
to the right to peaceful assembly and expression.
The Court also stated in a number
of decisions that the freedom of assembly and expression is one of the
central rights in a democratic society and the state and the police have a
positive duty to ensure this right is guaranteed with minimal restriction.
“We call on the police chief of
Budapest to refrain from an arbitrary interpretation of the Act on Assembly
in order to restrict LGBT people’s and their friends’ right to assembly, and
to take notice of the demonstration without banning it,” Gay Pride
organisers in Budapest say.
“We call on the police not to try
to prevent the attacks against the march by banning the march, instead they
should do their job and protect the marchers from expected neo-Nazi
Police Approve Budapest Gay Pride March.
The chief of Budapest police has
today reversed his decision earlier this week to bam the city’s Gay Pride
march next month.
Fury at Gay Pride March Ban. There has been anger today in
the European Parliament over the ban on Budapest Gay Pride by the city’s
police chief Dr. Gábor Tóth for traffic congestion reasons.
(UK Gay News, June 12,
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 12 June 2008 at
12:00 (UK time)