Thursday

27th Jul 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission to act on Poland

The EU executive is likely to issue a new set of rule of law recommendations to Poland and start legal probes once the controversial pieces of legislation have been published.

Orban vows to defend Poland from EU's 'inquisition'

The Hungarian leader called EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans an "inquisitor", allied with George Soros and the Brussels elite, and argued for the EU executive to stop being a political body.

Poland 'leaving EU community of values'

Leading MEPs and legal watchdogs have raised the alarm on Polish judicial reforms, but the European Commission declined to speak out so far.

Opinion

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  2. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  3. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  4. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  5. EU-US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  6. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  7. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  8. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas