Thousands march at Budapest Pride as LGBTQ2S+ community voices anxiety over Hungary’s restrictive laws

Budapest, Hungary –

Thousands of participants in the Budapest Pride March marched through the streets of the Hungarian capital on Saturday, as marchers expressed their fears over the increasing pressure on the LGBTQ2S+ community by the country’s right-wing government.

The 28th annual event will see the country’s laws banning homosexual and transgender depictions of minors under the age of 18 beginning to be applied more and more regularly, as a result of which those who disseminate LGBTQ2S+ content will held in the face of fines and other penalties.

Ahead of the march that started in Budapest’s city park, Pride organizer Jojo Majerczyk said the law passed in 2021 will now crack down on LGBTQ2S+ visibility, although it will have no immediate practical effect. He said that it is being used more and more for this purpose.

“We will see how the propaganda law passed two years ago is being applied in practice and how public discourse is fueling anger,” Majerczyk said, referring to the 2021 law. Stated. “It is now clear how they are trying to limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the world of media, movies, films and books.”

Majercsik pointed to the many recent instances of media content depicting LGBTQ2S+ people being restricted. This week, a national bookstore was fined about $36,000 for publishing a popular LGBTQ2S+ graphic novel in its youth literature section and failing to put it in sealed packaging as required by law.

In addition, a 30-second animated campaign video produced by Budapest Pride, in which two female characters meet and touch their foreheads, was ruled by Hungarian media authorities not suitable for audiences under the age of 18. , so it was only broadcast from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am.

With such policies enacted by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling party, rights groups have warned of a rapid retreat of sexual minority rights in the central European country.

The Orban government claims to be a defender of traditional family values ​​and defending Christian civilization against what it calls “gender madness.” It has repeatedly claimed that the law is intended to protect children from “sexual propaganda”.

However, some Hungarians see the policy as a deliberate attempt to stigmatize the LGBTQ2S+ community for political gain.

David Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary, said that in contrast to some countries in Western Europe and North America where Pride events celebrate the history and culture of LGBTQ2S+, Budapest Pride is a celebration of lesbian, gay, gay and gay people. He said it was a way to protest the tightening of the crackdown on rights. bisexual and transgender people.

“Unlike pride marches in happier countries around the world, this is truly a human rights demonstration,” Vig told The Associated Press. “This is for social acceptance, this is for equal rights, because they are not guaranteed in Hungary. We are second-class citizens in many areas of public life.”

Vig spoke of the week’s conflict after Amnesty International Hungary painted the city’s benches rainbow colors in celebration of Pride Month. The benches were defaced several times throughout the week by groups of white supremacist soccer fans, and anti-LGBTQ2S+ slogans were spray-painted around them.

“This is a very clear political message to stop the LGBTQI community in this country from coming out in public and showing who we are,” Vig said. .

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack hit the official webpage of Budapest Pride just before noon on Saturday. It was unavailable all day. Several small groups of anti-demonstrators lined the streets of the Pride Route and waved banners with anti-LGBTQ2S+ slogans.

But despite the opposition, Budapest Pride host Christoph Steiner said there were signs that the younger Hungarians were becoming more tolerant of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“There are new laws that make it almost impossible for LGBTQ people to live a normal life. We are very marginalized,” he said. “But at the same time, we are also seeing very positive changes. We see that the new generation is completely different.”

Pride march participant Nimrod Dagan believes LGBTQ2S+ rights in Hungary and his homeland of Israel have been “deprived” and feels a responsibility to stand up for his community by participating in the march. Stated.

“I don’t think this is a celebration. It’s clear to everyone here that unlike the rest of the world, this means much more,” Duggan said. “I think this is a happy protest.”

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