This past weekend, tens of thousands of people participated in Budapest Pride to show solidarity with the emerging attacks on Hungary’s LGBTQ+ community.
There were approximately 30,000 people that attended the event on Saturday. The New York Times reports that it is the largest march in Budapest Pride history, and they have been putting this event on for the past 26 years.
Attendees left Madách Square and marched across the Danube River to the Tabán district, which stretches about one mile. They waved rainbow flags and giant banners as they marched.
Why Was There Such an Impressive Turnout for Budapest Pride?
Due to recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, many people are outraged and were compelled to protest. However, the mood at Budapest Pride was joyous and in celebration of LGBTQ+ people.
According to attendee 16-year-old Mira Nagy in conversation with the Associated Press, this year’s march was necessary because of the “real stakes.” They also said, “our situation is pretty bad. My plan is that if things get even worse, I will leave Hungary.”
What Was the Recent Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation That Was Passed?
In June, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán passed a propaganda law that forbids queer and trans people from being represented in all forms of media. It was also determined that LGBTQ+ bars would be banned and LGBTQ+ issues being discussed in sexual education classes. In addition, it compared LGBTQ+ people with pedophilia and put bans on same-sex adoptions and legal gender marker changes that had passed in 2020.
Budapest Pride organizers encouraged marchers to speak out against Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws during the Pride event. According to activist Balint Rigo in conversation with CNN, Saturday’s march was a message that it was “time to show we’re not okay with” state-sponsored homophobia.
Rigo also said:
“Minorities have been systematically attacked, and we’re here to say enough. There’s power in numbers and we may not be able to change anything in the short term, but together we’re a symbol of solidarity.”
Is There Hope for the Situation in Hungary?
Even though there continue to be challenging against LGBTQ+ people in Hungary, there are still reasons to be hopeful. A recent announcement from the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said that they would be suing Hungary for infringing upon LGBTQ+ equality.
In response to this lawsuit, Orbán said that he plans to push a national referendum and leave the issue up to Hungarian voters. The 2022 referendum will ask five questions, including whether children should have access to content with “different sexual orientations without parental consent.” It will also ask whether or not gender-affirming procedures should be promoted to children and youth.
The Budapest Pride 2021 Event
Budapest Pride 2021 was the first march in two years since the 2020 one was canceled due to the pandemic. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Pride organizer Viktoria Radvanyi said to NPR that Orbán’s actions have made it challenging to organize the event.
According to Radvanyi:
“Year by year, we find it harder and harder to find venues. A lot of venues are afraid to host LGBTQ events because they fear that they are going to be attacked in the propaganda media.”
A 24-year-old protester and communications officer for the Háttér Society, Luca Dudits told AFP that LGBTQ+ Pride events in eastern Europe are “less about celebration and more about the protest.” Dudits also said:
“There’s more to protest against every year. It is now more important than ever to take to the streets together in this fight for the rights and freedom of LGBTQ people.”