Today’s Gay Pride Parade in Hungary

I was originally planning to write something about Hungarian education because I know that a lot of you are interested in the topic (as am I), but I somehow knew that the Hungarian Gay Pride Parade would not be as peaceful as we all hoped. Here's an update on what happened.

In Hungarian the Gay Pride Parade is called "Procession of Gay Dignity" (Meleg Méltóság Menete), and I must say that as far as I could see it was a very dignified walk all the way from Hősök tere to Erzsébet tér. That is a fairly long route. Here is a mapMelegfelvonulas that shows in red the areas the police blocked off from those groups who were likely to be troublemakers. So you can see that not only was the route sealed off but the neighboring streets as well. However, outside cafés along the route remained open, and large numbers of customers greeted the marchers enthusiastically. There were about 1,000 participants including former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and his wife; Tamás Bauer, former SZDSZ member of parliament; Mátyás Eörsi, SZDSZ MP; Péter Kende, writer; and András Léderer, former president of SZDSZ's New Generation. In addition there were representatives of Amnesty International, Democratic Charta, and other civic organizations. This was the first public appearance of the former prime minister since his resignation in March. On the picture you can see Gyurcsány, his wife, and Tamás Bauer.Gyurcsany meleg felvonulason

The parade was supposed to start at 1:30 p.m. but it began an hour late because the participants wanted to join another demonstration organized by the Austrian anti-fascists. Dozens of people carried an enormous rainbow-colored flag in the parade. Apparently it was about 60 meters long.

I'm not sure how the police managed to keep the anti-gay groups outside the cordon but they were successful although trouble started even before the parade began. It was a relatively small group at Hősök tere but loud enough. First they used all sorts of four-letter words against gays and Jews, and when they discovered Gyurcsány in the crowd they had a few kind words for him as well. The police who until then hadn't been paying much attention to these guys at last intervened and removed them from the scene. However, farther down the road there were a few hundred demonstrators who tried to break through the cordon at Octogon. Again, they didn't succeed.The participants apparently weren't even aware of the upheaval outside the cordoned off area.Gay flag By 4:30 about 300-400 people gathered at Deák tér where they attacked the police, and here the police had to use tear gas. The crowd began to disperse but unfortunately they then lingered in neighboring streets, including Dohány utca where the famous Budapest synagogue is situated. One can imagine what happened afterward. They called the Jews all sorts of names and tore down posters advertising the Jewish Summer Festival. All this was done while these savages were carrying Hungarian flags. How patriotic. Not far from Dohány utca there is the Astoria Hotel where another group gathered that began going along Rákóczi út to Corvin Department Store whose flat roof is used for all sorts of parties. Apparently some of the gays were planning to hold a party there. While about 150 people were gathering in front of the department store battling with the police, on Deák tér about 200 people were throwing bottles and rocks at the police and broke the windows of at least one car. Altogether 11 people were arrested. Some of these "gentlemen" apparently beat a young woman who wore a T-shirt identifying her as a participant in the parade. She was waiting for the street car when three men appeared from the underground passage in front of Astoria and, without saying a word, began to beat her. Because of the blows the woman fell on the ground. So, for good measure they kicked her several times. She suffered head and arm injuries.

One poster the marchers carried I simply loved.Mutass peldat It says: "Set a good example for Slovakia on how to treat minorities." Indeed, they could think about this a bit. And one more thing. I was having a fairly heated discussion with some people in Hungary about today's events. They claimed that the media exaggerate and I who don't live in the country simply fall for the media presentation and overstate the problem. After all, the whole thing was not much. It was over in no time. In other parts of the city one didn't even know what was going on. The latest acts of vandalism were not directed against gays; this particular parade just gave them an opportunity to make trouble because they are trouble makers. They are looking for any excuse. I tried to explain that, although it is possible that someone living in Óbuda or Svábhegy didn't notice a thing, unfortunately the world was not oblivious. Both countries and individuals tried to exercise moral and political suasion before the parade. The thirteen embassies did, Whoopi Goldberg did, the Canadian MPs did. Let's not lessen the significance of all this. The picture that is emerging of Hungary lately is not flattering. A country where the extreme right is making great strides, where the political culture is unspeakably low, and where corruption is all too often the norm. In addition to this trouble, thanks to the country's president Hungary is having serious problems with her neighbors. Let's not kid ourselves by saying that in a country where 1,000 peaceful marchers must be defended from barbarian skinheads by 1,000 riot police everything is just peachy pie and we are just exaggerating.

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Bob
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The problem is that Gyurcsany and his cronies created the most corrupt system Hungary has ever witnessed. Koka, Simor and Gyurcsany himself probably would be in jail in the US for their business dealings…
On the other hand Orban and his team is perceived as right-wing… While his views might be right-wing to a New York liberal, they are perfectly middle-of-the-road for a Debrecen civis.
Orban is corrupt, but the Hungarian right has never mastered institutionalized corruption to the level of the Liberals… they are simply not smart enough for organized crime.
The main issue for Hungary for 2011 will be the banking system. Expect an Ukraine or Argentina 2000 type meltdown, deposit withdrawal might be controlled… just like in the Ukraine today.
The health system and the transportation will go first, but the society won’t handle well the coming Bank runs…
Chaos in the country by the summer of 2010.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
The police did well, but as they knew well the usual assortment of louts, oafs and other sadistic poisonous toads had gathered waiting for a chance to have some of what they regard as fun. This is ‘par for the course’. A similar problem erupted in Birmingham yesterday when about 200 similar types of ‘Goons’ belonging to the English Defence League (which is a group I have never heard of) protested against ‘Islamic fundamentalism’. The ‘Boys in Blue’ felt the collars of some 30 or so of these twerps. I dare say ‘other arrests’ will follow in due course. Given the political naivety of the average Hungarian voter I feel that there are big problems ahead for Hungary, but for the police quieter times are coming as Central Europe slips quietly into Autumn (the season of mud) and then into winter. Mr Bob you for see a Fidesz victory next year followed by an economic crisis accompanied by Jobbik being allowed to ‘run amok’ in the streets in return for their support in parliament. By 2011 you for see huge flights of capital from Hungary as those few people who have savings try to secure them else where in Europe.… Read more »
Bob
Guest

How will it all end up?
Odin, the young already left. You won’t see many (non-Roma) people under 35 in Hungary.
Capital is already gone… the banks are not lending… and the Forint is holding thanks to the sky high interest rates…
First the IMF restrictions will destroy the transportation, health care and education… that is happening…
Next year, bank collapse. There will be chaos, looting.. and general breakdown of order and institutions… you already need to pay bribes to take care of the things here.
We’ll have a similar system we have seen in Serbia or Bulgaria. Things may get out of control if various groups have access to guns (Jobbik, Roma or other self-defense groups.)
Doesn’t look good…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Bob: “First the IMF restrictions will destroy the transportation, health care and education… that is happening… Next year, bank collapse. There will be chaos, looting.. and general breakdown of order and institutions..”
Oh, come on! The restrictions must be introduced not because of the IFM but because the country cannot afford putting hundreds of billions into a railway system which is inefficient. The transportation system will not be destroyed, banks will not collapse, there will be no general breakdown or looting. Thank God, the country is slowly moving in the right direction.

Turkish Gay
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Frank
Guest
Enough of the doomsayers…. there is cause for optimism! (Yes, the media DOES exaggerate. Do we really even need to say this? “Gay man is accepted by new colleagues in Hungary.” Is this newsworthy? “Gay man is beaten to bloody bits.” Much better. Advertising space, anyone?) Hungary is the only country in the East which has organized a Gay Pride event. Hungary is also one of the few to recognize registered partnerships among same sex couples, as opposed to America, for example, where same-sex partnerships are explicitly BANNED in some states. Of course this is not to say that there isn’t still a lot to do in Hungary. If all would be well, there wouldn’t be a need for Gay Pride… The interesting question is why are there such violent protests if such progress has been made legally? Why aren’t there such protests in the U.S.? I believe for several reasons. There is a culture of “civilized protest”, acceptable in a democratic system, that has developed in the U.S., and has yet to fully take root in newly democratized Hungary. Also, the government, the police, as well as the whole system they represent don’t have the respect accorded to them… Read more »
Frank
Guest

It’s interesting that you wanted to write something originally on education; I believe that there is the key to many of our problems today… accepting minorities, “political culture”, corruption, etc…

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Paul
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What happened to Bob?
We need him back – for those moments when Szilárd and Longstreet take a well deserved break.

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