|A heavy police presence prevented widescale violence at Budapestâs 14th gay pride parade Sept. 5. About 2,000 people marched down a boulevard that was, due to a security cordon, largely devoid of spectators. Photo by Andy Harley.
A heavy police presence prevented widescale violence at Budapestâs 14th gay pride parade Sept. 5. About 2,000 people marched down a boulevard that was, due to a security cordon, largely devoid of spectators, said correspondent Andy Harley of UK Gay News. One man broke through the cordon and popped some marchersâ balloons and tried to snatch away flags.
In other incidents, a British participant was punched in the face and a woman wearing an official pride T-shirt was punched, pushed to the ground and kicked by anti-gay protesters at a train stop near the paradeâs endpoint. Scuffles between riot police and hundreds of other counterdemonstrators took place outside of the cordon that encompassed AndrĂĄssy Avenue, one of the cityâs main streets. Police used tear gas to control the protesters, who threw rocks and bottles at them and burned a rainbow flag.
âThe cops sealed off the route â about two miles long from Heroesâ Square to the Embassy Quarter through downtown,â Harley said. âA block each side of the route was a âno goâ area. ... The scuffles were completely out of sight of the march.â
Marcher Cary Alan Johnson, head of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said that wasnât necessarily a good thing. âThere was a sense that while the security was appreciated, we had been cut off from the rest of the city,â Johnson said. âWe may have been out of the closet, but we werenât necessarily in the streets.â
About 40 counterdemonstrators, many of whom were skinheads, were detained for various reasons, including carrying explosives. Charges will be filed against 17 of them, police said.
In an address to the marchers, Juris Lavrikovs of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe), said: âYou are not alone in your struggle for equality and respect ... and your struggle against violence and intimidation. Letâs march with pride, dignity and determination. Letâs show Hungary and the whole of Europe that violence, threats and intimidation will not defeat us.â
Former Prime Minister Ferenc GyurcsĂĄny and his wife were among those who joined the parade.
Last year, right-wing extremists attacked the paradeâs 1,500 marchers and fought with police afterward. Hundreds of counterdemonstrators threw rocks, eggs, bottles, firecrackers, feces, acid, paint and Molotov cocktails at the participants and the cops. They also set a police van on fire and damaged media trucks.
Around 45 of the attackers were arrested after riot police used tear gas and water cannons to subdue them. Some 25 people were injured, including several of the 2,100 police officers protecting the event. A post-parade concert was canceled.
This yearâs pride march received official âsupportâ and âsolidarityâ from the embassies of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
âHuman rights â including justice, equality, humanity, respect and freedom of expression â and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built,â the embassies said in a public statement. âToday, many individuals face discrimination, both systemic and overt, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our governments seek to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people. ... We urge all governments to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity form the basis for criminal penalties.â
Other pride-week events this year included music, parties, an âantifascist demonstration,â workshops, an open-mic night, a picnic and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of KĂĄroly Kertbeny, âwho invented the term âhomosexuality,ââ pride organizers said.
Italy sees anti-gay crime wave
More than 1,000 people marched in Rome on Sept. 4 in protest of an ongoing anti-gay crime wave. In one incident, a gay couple was attacked outside a gay club, allegedly by a far-right activist nicknamed âLittle Swastika.â According to Amnesty International, one of the victims was stabbed and required surgery to save his life.
On Aug. 29, a nightclub that hosts a popular gay night was set alight by someone who broke a window and tossed in a flammable liquid. Firefighters extinguished the blaze quickly.
On Sept. 2, skinheads threw large firecrackers into a crowd in Romeâs very gay Via di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran Street). One person was slightly injured and a scooter was damaged.
Leading gay group Arcigay said that Italy had seen as many anti-gay incidents nationwide by the end of August as in all of last year. Arcigay President Aurelia Mancuso said the attacks highlight the fact that Italy desperately needs a gay-inclusive hate-crimes law to stop âdangerous fringe elementsâ from thinking âthey can get away with violence.â
Queer Culture Festival in St. Petersburg
The International Festival of Queer Culture will take place Sept. 19-27 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with support from the Swedish and Dutch consulates and local travel-book publishers. Planned events include plays, photo exhibits, poetry readings, music performances, seminars, workshops and discussions.
A closing-night concert will feature the American pop rock group Betty along with established and emerging local bands.
âWe use the term âqueerâ to go beyond LGBT-sphere and to include everyone,â said the organizers. ââQueer,â in our interpretation, is rebellion against stigmas and labels. It expands the rigid frameworks surrounding social stereotypes and stereotypes of identity, sex and gender. ... The aim of our festival is to unite different people around constructive creativity, common values, and positive emotions.â
Belgrade Gay Film Festival Canceled
Serbiaâs first gay film festival, scheduled for Sept. 11-13 in Belgrade, was postponed till November on Sept. 9. Organizers said they feared violence from participants in a Sept. 12 âfamily paradeâ that was organized to protest the cityâs Sept. 20 gay pride parade. The âInternational Queer Film Festivalâ has received support from the local French Cultural Center and the British Council, said GayEcho.com.
-assistance: Bill Kelley