Thursday

8th Dec 2022

Gay Pride ban threatens Hungary's EU image

  • Budapest police at the Gay Pride march in 2009 (Photo: kekecpp)

Hungary's reputation in the EU is facing another potential battering after Budapest police blocked Gay Pride marchers from gathering in front of parliament later this year.

Tamas Dombos from the Hungarian gay rights group Hatter Support Society told EUobserver on Tuesday (15 February) that police are likely to give the go-ahead for a different route for the rally, due in June, but that this is not the point.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The organisers decided to make the event more political than in previous years. We need the march to end in front of parliament in order to increase our visibility," he said.

In an embarrassing twist for the Hungarian EU presidency, the police used the EU chairmanship itself as justification. The official decision says tourists coming to see a presidency photo exhibition in parliament square could be vexed by the marchers, Mr Dombos reported. It also says official motorcades relating to presidency visits could be obstructed.

"Hungary is representing the whole of the EU, not just in Europe, but worldwide, and this gives a bad message. The EU is supposed to stand up for human rights," the campaigner added.

The march comes in the context of a general swing to the right under Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.

Rights campaigners are worried that a Fidesz-proposed constitutional amendment will make it impossible to legalise gay marriage in future by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

They are also concerned that Annamaria Szalai, the head of Hungary's new National Media and Telecommunication Authority, has indicated she will use her sweeping powers to protect what she calls "family values." Ms Szalai earlier in her career edited a pornographic magazine called Miami Press.

Asked if he thinks that Mr Orban is a homophobe, Mr Dombos said: "He is a political strategist. His party has changed its position so violently it's hard to know what they really think and what are political games."

For its part, Brussels on Tuesday fired a warning shot.

"The European Commission has no legal authority to intervene in how member states organise public meetings. When implementing national law, member states must respect fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, as required by their own constitutional order and international obligations," it said in a statement.

Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld said: "We cannot accept the EU being led by a presidency that disrespects equality and freedom of assembly."

The Gay Pride organisers first complained to press on Valetine's Day in a move designed to maximise pain. The Hungarian presidency has already come under fire at EU-level for trying to curb press freedom, harvest extra taxes from foreign firms and for putting a carpet in the EU Council building showing Hungary with enlarged borders.

When asked about Gay Pride by EUobserver on Tuesday, the Hungarian mission to the EU said the Hungarian government should answer the questions. The Hungarian government then passed the hot potato to the Budapest police, which never replied.

A Hungarian official, who wanted to remain anonymous, said police have special safety concerns about parliament after anti-government riots in 2006. He added that if the far-right holds a counter-march in June then police might find it hard to keep the peace inside the square.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Opinion

No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.

Exclusive

Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, is currently drawing a pension from a European Parliament fund that is some €400m in debt and may require a taxpayer bailout at a time of rising inflation and high energy costs.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  2. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  3. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  4. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  5. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  6. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  7. Autocrats make us all less secure
  8. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us