The Hungarian gay pride parade

This morning I heard one of the right-wing organizers explain that his organization is a peaceful group of concerned citizens. They just want to defend family values. Their only aim is to stop the yearly gay pride parade in Budapest because they consider it a form of advertising for homosexuality. But they will never resort to force. The organization’s name is Rendszerváltó Fórum. And what do I see in the online edition of Népszabadság tonight? “The most forceful attack against the demonstrators came from Rendszerváltó Fórum’s meeting at Franz Liszt Square.” Well, well! The report continues: “On the square the demonstrators tried to break the cordon [the police had erected] and attacked the police, who answered with tear gas.” At the far end of Andrássy Street, on Heroes’ Square, hooded and often masked demonstrators attacked the policemen, using Molotov cocktails, rocks, eggs, whatever. Here the police used water cannons as well as tear gas. Because of the “battle” on Heroes’ Square the police diverted the participants in the parade off the main road. In order to make sure that they were not attacked after the parade was over, as happened last year, the police directed the gays into the old nineteenth-century metro that was closed to the public for the duration. That way they could leave the scene without insults or bodily harm.


However, some people were not so lucky. József Orosz, a reporter for Klub Rádió, was recognized at the Kodály Circle. His attackers first abused him verbally, but soon enough they became violent. He was hit on the head and on the shoulder. For a brief period he lost consciousness. According to Orosz, one of his attackers yelled to the mob: “Come here, you can spit on Orosz.” Orosz is a liberally minded reporter and hence often the target of the extreme right. Gábor Horn, the SZDSZ politician, was also recognized by three young guys who spat on him, poured beer all over him, and at the end slapped him around. Gábor Szetey, former undersecretary in charge of the reform of public administration and the only member of the government who openly admitted to being gay, was recognized as he was leaving the scene with Katalin Lévai, a MSZP member of the parliament of the European Union. They managed to survive the ordeal unscathed thanks to a police car that came to their rescue. The mob subsequently broke the window of the car, but the passengers were unharmed. Lévai, who is a great champion of equal opportunity in Brussels, was shaken. She expressed her total amazement at the behavior of the extremist demonstrators. The whole scene reminded her of what she imagined to be the mood at a lynching or a pogrom. She added that it was horrifying to witness the egg and rock throwing and the physical attacks. Something like that shouldn’t happen in a European city, she said. She will write a report to the socialist delegation of the European Parliament and also to the head of the organization dealing with gay rights.


How can this happen? Why is it that until two years ago these gay pride parades went off without any trouble?  First and foremost, I blame Fidesz and its leader for encouraging  “civil disobedience” against the “illegitimate” government. Fidesz often called people to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the government. And once a large group of people assembles trouble is near. Especially if there is alcohol involved. And it seems that alcohol is always involved. Yes, but one could say: this attack on the gays wasn’t against the government. By the end, however, the slogans were directed against Gyurcsány and his government, and the whole atmosphere reminded the reporters present of the September-October events of 2006. One of the favorite slogans was: “Gyurcsány takarodj, vidd a buzi haverod” (Gyurcsány get lost and take your queer crony with you.” I assume the rhyme pattern dictated using this Yiddish slang word in the singular. In any case, it is clear that even the presence of homosexuals is blamed on the government.


Another reason for the attacks on the gay parade is the lack of any serious penalty for bad behavior. Once force is used on the streets and the police are hesitant and the courts are too easy on the attackers and too hard on the defenders of order, these guys are no longer afraid. They know that nothing terrible is going to happen to them. They can laugh the whole thing off, they think it’s fun. Moreover, Hungarian law seems to have a very expansive notion of the freedom of speech. For example, courts ruled that throwing eggs is nothing more than expressing one’s convictions and that people throwing eggs or tomatoes are just upright citizens exercising their democratic rights. Thus the members of the mob were not even hiding their cartons of eggs. After all, you know, democracy, freedom of speech.


I’m not sure what can be done about all this but something ought to be. Tightening the laws concerning assembly and freedom of speech would be in order, but given the political situation it seems a very difficult task.

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NWO
Guest

In addition to FIDESZ, you might consider ascribing some blame to the society (a culture of intolerance to “outsiders”), to adults who have abdicated the responsibility of raising their children properly and to the Church [I suppose most or all denominations] that do not inculcate views of tolerance and forgiveness and to the education system that is failing to provide any semblance of a productive education for most of the people, and is therefore leaving much of the youth without skills or much future. I have Romanian colleagues who come to Budapest regularly and are amazed by the poor quality of English langauge skills in the capital as compared to Bucharest. There is a generation of Hungarian youth that are being raised with no tangible skills to thrive in this world.
These are the elements that breed intolerance, stupidity and violence.
The fault lies not with FIDESZ (only) but with the culture and society.

Adrian
Guest

A rather bizarre situation unfolded at the end of the school year, one of my Hungarista students decided to transfer to another school. Despite her Spartan views – the disabled should be killed – she was a friendly and hard-working student, and was up to course material. When questioned about why she wanted to leave the school she told her form teacher that her brother (also a student) was openly gay and she couldn’t cope with the comments she received about him.
From the ensuing conversation it appeared that there were now three openly gay students in the school. This suggests a big improvement in tolerance for homosexuality compared to a few years ago. Despite an incomprehending homophobia general among the student body, the teaching staff are surprisingly relaxed about the topic.
I say surprisingly because of the very negative attitudes to gypsies in the staffroom. In fact we have openly gay students but no openly gypsy students.
Maybe there should be a “gypsy pride” parade too.

Paul Hellyer
Guest

The widespread homophobia of the Hungarian population should be widely and loudly condemned. It is but a short walk to the the broader xenophobic/antisemitism that is all too obvious in present day Hungary. The Hungarian elite and chattering classes claim that Hungary is indeed a ‘Western’, not ‘Eastern’, nation. They claim its rightful place is in the democracies and cultural institutions that lie to the West. Nyugat indeed. Well act like it!
The widespread failure of the political elite of Hungary to protest, to speak out, against these attacks and to support Gay Pride speaks volumes. Either Hungary is part of the West or it is not. When you pick up a stick, you pick up both ends. So, to be part of the West, you must also be part of the ‘Europrean Norms’. And that means embracing diversity and allowing those who think/act differently to oneself, to be celebrated and embraced. A ‘nehez dolog’ for many Hungarians, I know, but it must be done.

Laci
Guest

Did you have a look at the disgusting gay sexual behaviour on the floats, making out in sexual position od sodomy. Is this what our young people have to see on the streets of a Capital city of Europe.. ? Keep it off the streets we dont want to be like the deprived demonic western culture. Possesed by Satan.

NWO
Guest
Eva- I agree with you the discourse and the general public behavior in Hungary have deteriorated much over the last couple of years. FIDESZ has, if not fomented it, certainly more than tolderated it for what it considers political advantage. This is despicable. Nevertheless, I see, I believe, a more profound disallusionment in this country, and, in particular, among (late teens/early twenties and late middle age). These are people who either know their life is a disappointment or are like likely sons and daughters of those people. A huge generation of Hungarians believe they are running fast down a dead end (and they are probably correct). FIDESZ takes advantage of this, but they are not, to be fair, the cause of these problems. As much as the current Government has done to correct the worst of the fiscal problems in this country, to be honest, must look at the the Governments over the past 18 years (these being primarily Socialist led ones), and ask why have these Governments failed to miserably in pushing the society in a productive and positive direction? The answer lies in the fact that Hungarians yearn for a past which was not as good as they… Read more »
Skeptic
Guest

Wow, Fidesz is to blame for this? That’s really stretching things, although considering your open hate for anything that dare challenges your Blessed Gyurcsány, I’m not surprised.

Te Jó Ég!
Guest

Tölgyessy Péter elmondta: Magyarországon nincs sok zavargás. “Dániában például sokkal több van, tavaly halálos összecsapás is történt, miközben Dánia régi demokrácia és a világ egyik legboldogabb országa.”

Te Jó Ég!
Guest

“A Fidesz elutasítja a gyűlöletkeltés és az erőszak minden formáját” http://www.fn.hu/belfold/20080706/gyurcsanynal_betelt_pohar/

Barak
Guest
I was there. I had never felt that much hate. I had never been that frightened. I just blame the people that were there throing us eggs and tomatoes (and some rocks). But i´m so sorry for them; to hate that much is very bad for their health, to spend a sunny and beatifull saturday afternoon throuing rocks is just so sad. I also think that hungarian society is beeing very weak. I´m so sorry but i heard a lot of people saying that it was our fault also because we knew it could happend… sorry but we are not in the same level, never can be in the same one the victims and the guyltis. It is not just about Jobbik or Fidesz, it is about society, and hungarian society had failed… again. All the parties had failed in my opinion(where were the Demszky? the new generation of SZDSZ where there with a truck, but not the current senior officials. where were the other socialist MP´s?. i can understand that the other parties where not in the demostration, but they should be much stronger in their blame of the violence, and they should say all the parties together. And… Read more »
Kincs
Guest
Mr. Jó ég is referencing a perfectly good example of Fidesz’s failure to lay the emphasis where it belongs. The link takes you to a quote from Fidesz parliamentary leader Tibor Navracsics in which he condemns hatred and violence then says it is unacceptable that the police cannot maintain order “because of the minority government’s incapacity”. As usual with Fidesz mouthpieces, the guy can’t open his mouth without saying something bad about the prime minister or the government. He would have us believe that the police – and by extension the government – are to blame for the fact that hundreds of people think it’s acceptable to express their hatred through violence. Other parties, even the Democratic Forum, expressed shock and outrage at the violence. Fidesz did not, but simply issued a bland formulaic statement against violence in general. Fidesz needs to condemn violence and street protests as a means of political expression. But they won’t. They’ve been wondering how to turn it to their own purposes ever since 2006 when it looked like the riots just might sweep them into power. That fantasy still lives for them. Secondly, Viktor Orbán is not going to specifically condemn Saturday’s hooligans, just… Read more »
Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Why does everyone fail to grasp that until two years ago, when the prime minister admitted to lying to gain reelection then refused to step down, none of this sort of crap happened? Could that possibly have something to do with it? Fidesz were idiots before and after; that didn’t change. So what changed bringing about the current status quo? Hmm…

Eliot
Guest

Fidesz to blame?? Does Gyurcsany pay you to write this sycophantic blog?

Adrian
Guest

Laci,
“the disgusting gay sexual behaviour on the floats, making out in sexual position od sodomy”.
Like you Laci I am uncomfortable with the public display of sexuality. But all sexuality not just homosexuality. For me it is a problem that pornography is not just a very successful Hungarian industry, but part of Hungarian life in a way it wasn’t in my English childhood. The other day my 10 year old daughter told me of a magazine article she had read about a woman having sex with a dog.
In the Hungarian porn industry, sodomy between men and women is regularly depicted. Is this any more or less disgusting to you? These images are widely available in Hungary, my daughter has been shown them at school.
The other side of my queasy reactions to the gay parade is it emphasises homosexual sex at the expense of homosexual love. The majority of my homosexual aquaintances have stable relationships and love their sexual partners. They do not advertise their sexuality , it would be a fairer society if they could advertise their affection: just like my wife and I.

NWO
Guest

The thing that does bother me about FIDESZ/Orban on this issue (like so many others) is that when there is something at all controversial and which might play poorly with part of the Party’s base, Orban goes into hiding and Navracsics becomes the front man. This is a really gutless approach.

Adrian
Guest

Kincs,
“A smart politician knows that elections are won in the middle ground, not on the fringes.”
Not under Hungary’s electoral arrangements.

GDF
Guest

“Fidesz were idiots before and after; that didn’t change. So what changed bringing about the current status quo? ”
What changed? That the extreme right (which is being harder and harder to be distinguished from FIDESZ) seems to have become a real force. They attack a peaceful march with Molotov cocktails, they prepare eggs filled with acid, soon they are going to start shooting their “enemies”.

Barak
Guest

hey hey hey;
Really, this is a bigger issue, it is not about Fidesz or Gyrcsany, is not about if you like or not homosexuality or sodomy, is about HUMAN RIGTHS, the human rigth of free speech, of demostration.
And that´s something we all have to stand for. So if we, if all the politicians don´t agree on stand for human rigths, that means that we are far away for beeing in an european union country, for beeing in a developed democracy.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I must commend the police officers in charge of the escort to the parade for their actions. It shows that they have learned much, where as the rabid homophobic portions of the crowd and that group who just wanted another ‘punch up’ with the police have learned nothing. This parade was used by the right (including FIDES) to get out on to the streets and flex their muscles – just to show how mighty they are and to put the ‘Fear of the Lord’ into the minds of the voters (Shades of Szálasi and Rakosi). @Laci You pointed out the *** “Did you have a look at the disgusting gay sexual behaviour on the floats, making out in sexual position of sodomy.” *** That is really a matter for the police; I dare say that there is a law about lewd and indecent behaviour in public. @Mr Barak Whilst intolerance and riotous assemblies are a political matter the sexual proclivities of two consenting adults is of no concern of politicians. Equally I can see that parading their sexuality before everyone can lead to problems with those thuggish “nurks” who seem to have joined the right. On a personal note and… Read more »
Adrian
Guest

Odin,
“What on earth were here teachers thinking of to allow such a thing to happen?”
I can’t defend my colleagues on this one. I give my students access to the internet in class, but supervise how it is used: my only “szaktánári figyelmeztetés” last year was for inappropriate use of the internet during class – games not porno.
Daughter No 1’s homework class had been merged with an older group because of a staff shortage – much more of a issue here than in the UK because there is no supply teacher system. In the absence of teacher, the older boys undertook the educational role – look at these pictures on the internet. Daughter No. 1. was so impressed she came home – where they also have internet access – and showed daughter No. 2 aged 6, who promptly told Daddy.

GC
Guest

This is an important issue, though it is not a partisan issue. To make such claims and lay blame with Fidesz simply deepens the divide and solves nothing. There are tolerant people and intolerant people everywhere, in both major parties. General malaise brings out extremists in any country. While this blog is informative, taking any opportunity to trash the party to which you are not sympathetic becomes tiresome. “Yes” to education and tolerance. “No” to finger pointing.

GC
Guest

This is an important issue, though it is not a partisan issue. To make such claims and lay blame with Fidesz simply deepens the divide and solves nothing. There are tolerant people and intolerant people everywhere, in both major parties. General malaise brings out extremists in any country. While this blog is informative, taking any opportunity to trash the party to which you are not sympathetic becomes tiresome. “Yes” to education and tolerance. “No” to finger pointing.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
@Adrian *** “I can’t defend my colleagues on this one.” *** Neither can I! In my book teachers are in “Loco Parentis” and must not allow those in his/her charge to do anything their parents would not wish. If this had happened to me I am afraid I would have ‘bearded’ the Principle in his ‘den’ and given him a right ‘royal rollicking’ over that one! His conduct and that of his staff was disgusting. He is responsible for the actions of his people and should have ensured that the children were properly supervised or the class should not have gone ahead. What would have happened if the childrens’ physical safety were involved? I was once threatened with a court martial for refusing to become ‘Range Safety Officer’ for a live firing practice. My reasons were that I was not certified to take practices with larger than 75mm self loading guns and the firing was to be done with 88 and 112mm ‘quick firing’ (hand loaded) guns. My refusal was up-held and as I was the only person available with a Range Certificate the practices were delayed until someone who had the necessary qualifications could be found.
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