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Budapest Pride – without major incidents

July 10th, 2013

Left-wing and liberal columnists believe that the mostly peaceful Budapest Pride 2013 walk proved a major success or even a breakthrough for gay rights activists. They find it disappointing, however, that the police showed little zeal to pursue radical protesters who beat up three marchers.

In contrast with some previous years, Budapest Pride 2013 ended without major atrocities, although a small group of radical protesters attacked three participants. The police checked the identity of the victims and did not stop the perpetrators. A police communique explained that the culprits had left the scene by the time the incident was signalled to them. The march was attended by several left-wing and liberal personalities and sympathizers.

This year’s Budapest Pride was a breakthrough, despite the fact that three participants were attacked,” Népszabadság comments in a front page editorial. More than 8,000 people, supported by several companies (including Google and Espell) by far outnumbered the small group of far-right protesters shouting homophobic slogans, Népszabadság recounts. Despite the incident, Budapest Pride was on a par with similar demonstrations in Western Europe, the newspaper concludes.

Magyar Narancs also considers the event a success. The liberal weekly finds it promising that pro-government personalities took a stand against discrimination towards homosexuals, although they added that they do not support public demonstrations in favour of certain  sexual preference. (The initiators of the “peace marches” held over the past 18 months in support of the government in its conflicts with the European Union published an open letter on the subject, after their homepage was hacked and replaced by a gay parade announcement.) Magyar Narancs, however, finds it disappointing that government politicians stayed away from the event, for their symbolic participation could have helped to reduce homophobic prejudice in the country.

In Népszava, Jenő Veress speculates that the police officers on duty failed to take action against the group of radicals who beat up the three peaceful marchers because Jobbik and racist ideology is gaining ground in the ranks of the police. “It is possible that many of the policemen maintaining public order at the event would rather have stood aside and let ‘natural selection’ take place,” Veress contends.

It would be easy but wrong to blame the incompetence of the police on the Fidesz government, László Szily writes in Cink.  The centrist commentator points out that the police have not been exactly proactive in the defence of homosexuals and pro-gay right activists, since the Kádár era”. “A lot changes in Hungary, but, unfortunately, the worst things usually remain the same”, Szily concludes.

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