14 April 2009 – Cafe Babel
Is Hungary ready for same-sex unions?
by Chiara Sassoli – Budapest Translation: Alexandra Baxter
The debate first began in 2004 when Péter Gusztos, a member of the liberal party alliance of free democrats (SzDSz), first proposed the idea of legal registering same-sex unions, a move which would give homosexual couples equivalent rights to those enjoyed by married couples. On 17 December 2007, a few months after extreme right-wing groups caused disturbances at the gay pride celebrations in Budapest, the centre-left coalition government adopted Gusztos’ proposals. Everything seemed to be going well and the proposals were to be put into effect from January 2009. However on 15 December 2008, just two weeks before the legislation was due to come into force, the supreme court ruled that it was in fact unconstitutional. The court threw the legislation out on the pretext that the procedure of the civil partnership was far too similar to the inviolable and sacrosanct convention of marriage.
In the nearby Czech Republic, same-sex unions are recognised by law
‘The court’s argument is pretty implausible,’ declares András Léderer, 24, president of Új Generáció (‘New Generation’), the youth wing of the SzDSz, the current opposition party. With more than 1, 500 young members, the group is especially vocal on the subject of civil liberties and it strives for equal rights, such as the right to choose one’s own partner and for homosexuals to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Clutching a frappé at Eklektika, the only gay-friendly restaurant in the Hungarian capital, András declares: ‘It’ll be a long time before the conservatives, the church and Hungary’s civil organisations, many of which have right-wing tendencies, recognise that homosexual and heterosexual couples should have completely equal rights. Unfortunately, it is precisely these groups which influence whether politics are in favour of homosexual unions. For example, the Czech the government has been legally recognising homosexual unions since 2006 – let’s think about that.’ Holland, Spain and Belgium have taken the same step as the Czechs. Meanwhile, 23 other EU member states are still considering following suit, some more seriously than others.
Another attempt in parliament to no avail
On 9 March this year, the SzDSz proposed a new, modified bill on the subject of civil partnerships in parliament. The party has now come to terms with the fact that it is better for them to settle with small steps forward, so long as they are in the right direction. This new proposal, which is supported by five parties and may very well pass as legislation, has been altered to give it ‘less serious’ consequences. Same sex unions will not sign documents at a registry office but instead before a notary; this information will then be entered into a databank. In addition to that, same sex couples will not be subject to regular family legislation and therefore will not be able to adopt children, nor to take the surname of their partner. In the case of death or separation, the family of the individual will take precedence over their partner with regards to inheritance and access to dependants. In summary, they are all restrictions which prevent same sex couples from enjoying truly equal rights. And seeing as 10% of the Hungarian population is currently living with someone to whom they are not married, this is an issue which would affect a large proportion of the population.
Like András, Anna Lovas Nagy, artist and host of a radio programme dedicated to the lesbian community – Tilos Rádió 90.3 FM – is in favour of homosexual couples being allowed to adopt children. ‘If two women have a child, as is true in my case, and Mummy One, let’s call her, were to have some sort of problem, her partner, Mummy Two, has no right to the child. It’s a situation which absolutely must change, but it’ll take time – Hungary isn’t ready yet.’ At 45 years old and with a 25-year-old daughter, Anna claims to have been the first lesbian to have ‘come out’ openly in the media ten years ago. Nowadays she is completely open about her sexuality, even if she admits she’s been very lucky. Thanks to the unexpected help of a translator, she tells me over a sparkling water that the last few years have seen a real ‘baby boom’ among lesbian couples in Hungary, and even if only for this fact alone, there is a need to adapt to this increasingly common situation.
A girl passes by and greets Anna before setting up her film club meeting in the basement of this café in the new Jewish quarter of Budapest, a popular meeting place for the city’s lesbian community. The young lady speaks to me in English and talks frankly about the proposal in parliament: ‘We hope that it will pass; if not, we’ll have to wait many years until it can be discussed again.’ She talks about the political elections which are expected to take place later in the year, at which, according to predictions, the conservative parties are likely to do well. If this is the case, the debate on same-sex unions will come crashing down the Hungarian political agenda.
Bence Rétvari, president of the young christian democratic union, is one of the politicians fervently opposed to homosexual marriage. He believes that legalising homosexual marriage won’t do anything but open the door to all manner of ‘unorthodox’ unions. For a start, he says, marriage should be for the purpose of procreation; he feels it’s impossible for homosexuals to seek equality in this respect. Quite simply, they are limited by biology. For now, Hungary will have to wait for the parliamentary discussion of the issue over the next couple of weeks.
April 20,2009 – ILGA-Europe
Hungary introduces registered partnership for same-sex partners – The Hungarian Parliament has adopted today the revised bill on registered partnership.
The bill was introduced to the Parliament following the Constitutional Court decision of December 2008 that struck down the previous version of the law just weeks before its supposed entry into force. The new legislation introduces the institution of registered partnership for same sex couples and also sets up a different scheme of domestic partnership registration for both same sex and different sex couples. The bill was adopted 199-159-8, the governing socialist party and their former liberal coalition partner voted for the bill, other opposition parties voted against it.
The legislative history of the Registered Partnership Act started in October 2007, when following the attempt of the liberal party (Alliance of Free Democrats) to open up marriage for same sex couples, the Hungarian Socialist Party – as a compromise solution – called on the government to prepare a bill on registered partnership. Within a month, the government submitted a bill to the Parliament, which was adopted in a short, but heated debate on December 17, 2007. The bill was supposed to enter into force a year later, on January 1, 2009. Soon after its adoption several Christian and conservative groups filed petition with the Constitutional Court to declare the law unconstitutional. The Court delivered its decision in December 2008 striking down the law on the ground that by allowing different sex couples to enter into a relationship very similar to that of marriage duplicates the institution of marriage, and thus contradicts the special protection of marriage enshrined in the Constitution. On the other hand, the Court also held that the introduction of an institution similar to marriage for same sex couples is a constitutional duty. Within a day Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány instructed the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement to prepare a new bill on registered partnership, which was submitted to the Parliament on 16 February, 2009.
The act bears the intimidating title of Act on Registered Partnership and Related Legislation and on the Amendment of Other Statutes to Facilitate the Proof of Cohabitation, and retains much of the content of the previous bill with one exception: the institution of registered partnership will only be available to same sex couples. Establishment and dissolution of registered partnerships will be the same as for marriage, and registered partners will be entitled to most of the rights available for married couples. Notable exceptions are the right to take the partners’ name, to adopt children and to participate in assisted reproduction. Besides introducing registered partnerships for same sex couples, the new act also introduces a scheme for registering domestic partnerships. Unlike registered partnership, this new opportunity will not grant any new rights or duties to couples cohabiting without marriage, but will only make it easier for them to prove the existence of such a relationship. This second registration scheme will be available to both same sex and different sex couples.
LGBT NGOs criticized the bill for not granting the same rights to registered partners as to married couples, as well as for the provision limiting the possibility to enter into registered partnership to citizens of states that already recognize registered partnership. Amendments were submitted by socialist and liberal MPs to respond to these demands, but only the amendments concerning foreign citizens were adopted by the majority of the parliament. LGBT and human rights NGOs were, on the other hand, successful in adding data protection rules to the law: as an unprecedented legal innovation the law contains that public or private actors can demand and record information on family status only in a form that does not treat marriage and registered partnership as separate categories. This means that gays and lesbians are not forced to disclose their sexual orientation when they have to declare their family status.
President László Sólyom has fifteen days to sign the law, veto it or send it to the Constitutional Court. As the law is very similar to the one adopted a year and a half ago, a presidential veto is unlikely, although Sólyom’s deteriorating relationship with the governing party makes the political process somewhat unpredictable. The law would enter into force two months after its signature, either on June 1 or July 1, 2009.
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June 28, 2009 – UK Gay News
“We Will Not Be Intimidated” – Organisers of Budapest Gay Pride
Extreme right wing groups plan to stop September’s Pride march “by all means necessary” Budapest – Organisers of Budapest Gay Pride are calling for world-wide support for their September event which, they say, is no longer only about the rights of gay and lesbian people, but about the freedom of everyone. “We call on everyone, straight or gay, to participate in the Pride march and other events,” a spokesperson for the organisers, Szivárvány Misszió Foundation, said.
On June 7, the extreme right wing party, Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), gained enough votes to send three MEPs to the European Parliament. Then seven days later, the party announced at a press conference that they will work in close cooperation with other extreme right wing political groups to stop “by all means necessary” the Gay Pride march on September 5 in Budapest.
“We are concerned that one of the primary aims of this new political group is to hinder a group of citizens in practicing their constitutional rights,” Budapest Pride organisers said last week in a statement. Based on the events that took place in the past two years, it is beyond doubt that “by all means” includes violent attacks on the Pride March as well. We will not be intimidated,” they say. “We must show that the majority of Hungary refuses the violent hatred propagated by these groups – and is committed to human rights and equality before the law for all.”
The Hungarian Constitution and international human rights conventions guarantee the right to peaceful assembly to all – including gays and lesbians.
“The Gay Pride march cannot be stopped by lawful measures, as shown by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights that condemned the banning of the Warsaw Pride in 2005,” the statement continues. “Gay Pride Marches are held in nearly all capitals of Europe: in most countries it is a cheerful event that combines political demonstration and a fun atmosphere that celebrates diversity with the participation of tens or hundreds of thousands of people.”
The European Union Council of Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, has said: “The European Court of Human Rights has clarified in several judgments that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is not allowed.” And the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Charter explicitly includes discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people have the same rights as others,” the Pride organisers say. “The international standards do apply to them as well …. In other words, discrimination against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is a human rights violation.”
The Hungarian LGBT community has organised annual Pride marches since 1997. The first ten years saw peaceful demonstrations without any incidents. But in the past two years, the calls for equality were met with violence from anti-gay protestors. In 2007 protestors threw eggs, gasoline bombs and bags filled with sand and faeces at the marchers, while shouting “Fags to the Danube, Jews to follow”. After the parade, gays and lesbians leaving a number of venues were attacked by smaller groups of extremists.
Last year, the violence started before the July Pride march: a gasoline bomb was thrown on the office of the organisers, and the attack on the march was even more violent and organised than the previous year. It was only as a result of the effective intervention of the police that tragedy was averted.
“The violent attacks were organized by Internet sites linked to extreme right wing groups,” a spokesperson for Budapest Pride told UK Gay News. “And based on police reports, calls for gay bashing were openly voiced at the official demonstrations of extreme right wing political groups.”
Organisers are demanding that Jobbik and its allies give up their plans to prevent the Gay Pride march from taking place.
“We call on the police and the prosecutors’ office to closely monitor the operation of these organisations and to take effective action if the groups are preparing to commit criminal activities – violation of the freedom of assembly and violence against a member of a social group. We ask that politicians and public figures make it clear that the violent hindrance of a peaceful demonstration is intolerable in a democratic community.”
Budapest Pride takes place between August 30 and September 6. There is a week of LGBT cultural activities, including a film festival. The Pride march is on Saturday September 5.
September 2, 2009 – From Nepszava News
"Person of the Day"
In a video message, U.S. actress Whoopi Goldberg expressed her support for the participants of the gay march of Budapest Pride this coming Saturday. As she said she loves Hungary very much, and she is at least that much committed to human rights. "I believe we all have differences, but we all want the same thing: freedom, respect, love and peace."
Whoopi Goldberg is a refreshing patch of color in Hollywood .
She is aware that as a well-known person, with her statements she is able to influence the public on how the majority should accept a minority. She says she is proud of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people for being open about who they are. In her opinion, these people have earned equal rights, the support and protection of their government and their police, but mostly, a right to a peaceful march.
She should know, since as an African American she knows how it feels to belong to a minority. In America , the land of opportunity, the place of equality and tolerance, this is now in the past. In Hungary , it is the present, but the Afro-American actress has undertaken to express her opinion. And she does not care if from now on a few
people will refuse to watch"Sister Act".
In addition to her support, the actress has done more than that: in a television program she had said that she would love to be Ambassador to Budapest if the Obama administration asked her. With his film shot with a hand-held camera in front of the Hungarian Parliament, Hungary ‘s former Ambassador to Washington Andras Simonyi sent the message that he would be happy to see her in that position. Even if she had only meant it as a joke, as an American, Whoopi Goldberg has done more for Hungary than many Hungarians. She called attention to the fact that Hungary is not the country of the Hungarian Guard, of those waving flags with Arpad stripes and hurling stones, and not of the murderers of the Roma.
Based on that, Whoopi could indeed come and be Ambassador. And even though she does not have eyebrows – which, according to Ilona Ekes of Fidesz, in Hungary is a sign of mental defectiveness, since others do have them – this should not disqualify her. The majority would accept her anyway. Just like they accept minorities.
September 6, 2009 – PinkNews
2,000 march in Budapest Pride
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
After violent fascist attacks last year, this year’s Budapest Pride proceeded peacefully. Two thousand people took part in the march on Saturday amid a massive police presence. Although the huge security detail prevented any anti-gay groups infiltrating the march, it also meant that onlookers and well-wishers were kept at least a block away.
A two-metre steel fence was erected for the duration of the four kilometre parade route, which began in Heroes Square. Forty-one people from various anti-gay and fascist groups were arrested during clashes with police, some for carrying explosives. The majority were released the following day. Budapest police agency BRFK has said 17 people will be charged with assaulting a police officer, while 12 will be charged with other offences.
Police are searching for four men who attacked a lone woman who was wearing a t-shirt in support of Pride. She is thought to have been the only person who was hurt by extremists. Last year, an estimated 1,500 people participated in an LGBT solidarity demonstration and Hungarian police were forced to use tear gas and a water cannon to clear the route for marchers to leave. There were also violent scenes at Pride in 2007, which was plagued by skinheads and fascists shouting abuse and throwing items such as beer bombs, smoke bombs and petrol bombs at the peaceful marchers.
Several weeks ago, a joint statement from a number of countries expressed support for Pride events in the city. The joint press release was issued by the Embassies of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. "On the occasion of the 2009 Budapest Pride Festival, we express our support for, and solidarity with, the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities in Hungary," it said.
September 6, 2009 – JTA
Rioters rampage in Budapest’s Jewish district
Budapest (JTA) – A crowd of 500 demonstrators, including neo-Nazis and skinheads, rampaged in Budapest’s Jewish district. Hungarian riot police deployed tear gas and baton charges Saturday against the vociferously xenophobic crowd as it tried to disrupt Hungary’s annual Gay Pride parade. More than 30 arrests were made on charges including possession of offensive weapons and riotous behavior. Heightened surveillance was enforced throughout the day to prevent a recurrence of the mayhem that ended last year‘s parade, in which there were more than a dozen serious injuries, according to Éva Tafferner, press officer at Budapest police headquarters.
The rioters invaded the heart of the traditional Jewish Ghetto District, started a small fire, tore down signs and shouted threatening anti-Semitic vitriol. The attacks were witnessed by families of foreign Jews visiting the district for the Budapest Jewish Cultural Festival. One British tourist trying to argue with the rioters at the edge of the ghetto had to be rescued by police when he was verbally abused and physically assaulted by a gang of 20 attackers. A policeman who tried to break up a confrontation not far from there was knocked to the ground and kicked, as was a woman displaying a Gay Pride T-shirt while standing alone at a tram stop.
The parade drew support from artists, politicians and human rights organizations in many countries. An anti-fascist organization in neighboring Austria sent busloads of activists who marched beneath a giant rainbow flag. Former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who took part in the parade, declared that “All free citizens must defend human rights.”
September 8, 2009 – IGLHRC
Out of the Closet and Into the Streets (Sort of)
The night before Budapest’s LGBT Pride march, the tension was real. Annual LGBT Pride festivals have been held no fewer than 14 times in this Eastern European city, but in 2007 and 2008, marchers were verbally and physically attacked by counter-demonstrators—skinheads and far-right extremists—and assaulted with eggs, firecrackers and petrol bombs. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to separate rioters from marchers and detained 45 people. At least eight people were wounded in the clashes, including two policemen. Demonstrators charged that police were not adequately prepared and had not provided enough protection.
This year, march organizers were buoyed by an amazing video message from U.S. celebrity Whoopi Goldberg and a statement of support signed by 13 foreign embassies, including South Africa and the United States—two countries often conspicuously silent on international LGBT issues. A representative of the Dutch Gay and Lesbian Police Officers’ Association, who was coincidentally staying at the same guesthouse as me, had come a few days earlier to train Hungarian LGBT leadership on responding to hate crimes during a Pride march.
I woke up early on the morning of the march, wanting to be alert and prepared for whatever the day might hold. I walked the length of the march corridor, watching workers set up two-meter tall fencing along the whole route. Hundreds of policemen, in full Kevlar riot gear and gas masks, were deploying along the main maarch route and the side streets feeding onto Andrassy Street, one of Budapest’s main boulevards.
The march was scheduled to start at 1 pm. The organizers—Rainbow Pride Hungary—recommended that children, people with disabilities and the elderly not attend the march for their own safety. The crowd seemed small at the starting site. Fewer than 200 of us milled about in a small space between the fences that had been set up in the impressive Hösök Ter (Heroes Square). Hungarian activists had chosen the starting site and the march route to forge a historical connection to the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution against Soviet domination. The nervousness in the small crowd was palpable—a balloon popped and everyone jumped. But the crowd was nothing if not committed and there was a sense of determination and maybe just a bit of the stoic realism for which Eastern Europe is famous.
The march stepped off fashionably late. But by 1:30 the ubiquitously unflappable club anthems were booming from huge speakers on the lead truck and we were marching. The crowd had swelled to 2,000 by the time we were a third of the way down the march corridor. I was proud (and relieved) to be marching side-by-side with Juris Lavrikovs of Latvia, and Paata Sabelashvili, of Georgia, two gay men who are on the staff and board (respectively) of ILGA-Europe. In addition to being lovely, committed, sophisticated activists, these guys were also a lot of fun to spend the day with. ILGA-Europe is a tremendously important organization, based in Brussels and providing support to the LGBT movement in Europe.
As the march moved through the streets of Budapest, I learned the importance of the term “throwing distance.” The police had established the march corridor so that anti-gay demonstrators were corralled on the side streets, at all times at least a city block from the marchers. I had to strain to hear their taunts. Some gay men I met later at the guest house told me that the demonstrators numbered no more than 200, seemed disorganized and aimless, and that their taunts seemed less directed at the LGBT community than at some nameless, faceless threat to Hungarian nationalism. The media reported that anti-gay demonstrators burned a rainbow flag, and several dozen were arrested for disorderly conduct during the course of the day. One British national was reported to have been attacked by skinheads.
The police seemed committed to ensuring that the violence of previous years would not be repeated. But for most of the activists that I met, there was a sense that while the security was appreciated, we had been cut off from the rest of the city. We may have been out of the closet, but we weren’t necessarily in the streets. One of the goals of LGBT Pride should be increased visibility—that’s the difference between a Gay Pride march, which invites, cajoles and demands a political interaction from spectators, and a Gay Pride parade, which is mainly a celebration of pride and done for our own self-actualization and enjoyment.
But still the march was great. At 49, I thought I’d lost my gusto for the very special ping that comes from marching down the middle of a street and claiming my queerness in the company of my fellows. There’s still something wildly empowering about it. Special recognition must go to some of our steadfast allies. Amnesty International’s delegation was strong and visible, as was the Hungarian Humanist Movement. For the most part, these two groups are key allies of the LGBT movement worldwide.
The march ended in a small park called Diak Ter, and again the organizers wisely decided to not hold a big rally or party that could have ultimately become a target for skinheads intent on finding an outlet for misdirected anger. Instead, dozens of well-trained volunteers carefully dispersed the crowd toward public transportation hubs. Katherine Fobear, a very cool young American from Detroit, who is studying lesbian social anthropology in Amsterdam and had come to Hungary for Pride, informed me that a lesbian volunteer had been one of the few casualties of the day. Three skinheads caught this woman, still wearing her Pride T-shirt, on her way to the train and assaulted her. We’re trying to get in touch with Labrisz, the Hungarian lesbian group (www.labrisz.hu) to get more information on her well-being.
My friend from the Dutch LGBT police officer’s association suggested that while the Hungarian police had done a good job, more effective crowd control techniques would have enabled them to contain the protesters rather than the marchers, while still maintaining order and security. Perhaps the relative success of this year’s march will allow both the organizers and the police to feel more secure about their ability to protect the marchers when they are in closer proximity to their opponents. Maybe next year the march can be a more interactive dialog between LGBT people, our supporters, and the small minority still obsessed with shouting down freedom.
March 23, 2010 – UK Gay News
Hungarian Constitutional Court Affirms Registered Partnerships for Gay Couples
by Tamás Dombos, Háttér Society
Budapest – The Hungarian Constitutional Court has declared that the Registered Partnership Act, which came into force on July 1 last year giving same-sex couples the equivalent legal status as married couples, is in line with Hungarian constitution requirements. Nine petition to rule the Act unconstitutional were submitted – including one from the Christian Democratic People’s Party, sister party of FIDESZ, the likely winner of the forthcoming general election.
Soon after its adoption last summer, conservative groups, including the Christian Democratic People’s Party, the Society for Christian Physicians in Hungary, the Pro Life Forum linked to the Catholic Church and representatives of Faith Church, a powerful Pentecostal church, submitted nine petitions contending the unconstitutionality of the Act. The arguments were diverse. Some argued that the new institution undermines the institution of marriage, others that excluding different-sex couples is discriminatory. There were legal arguments against the technique of codification (a general clause equating registered partnership with marriage for most purposes), but also religious arguments that homosexuality is disorderly and immoral.
Several petitions claimed that by institutionalizing and promoting homosexuality the law harms the children. The Court rejected each of these claims one by one, reaffirming its previous decision that the right of same-sex couples to legal recognition and protection can be derived from the constitutional principle of human dignity and that the introduction of an institution similar to marriage for same-sex couples is a duty of the state imposed by the Constitution. The Court also added that the law will play a positive role in promoting the social acceptance of same-sex couples and help gays and lesbians to come out.
As opposed to the generally positive tone of the decision, the Court also noted that not all differences between marriage and registered partnership are necessarily discriminatory, giving discretionary power to the legislator in deciding on the actual rights and duties that come with registered partnership. According to the Hungarian legislation, registered partnership is a family law institution that is established by joint declaration in front of a registrar. The rules governing the establishment and dissolution of registered partnership are the same as for marriage, and registered partners are entitled to most of the rights available for married couples.
Notable exceptions are the right to take the partners’ name, the right to adopt children and the right to participate in assisted reproduction. Conservative opposition parties, expected to win elections next month, strongly criticized the law for making registered partnership so similar to marriage. At this point it is unclear whether the new Constitutional Court decision will deter them from weakening the institution of registered partnership once in power.
15 February 2011 – PinkNews
Budapest Pride banned by police over ‘traffic concerns’
by PinkNews.co.uk Staff Writer
This year’s Budapest Pride festival has been banned by police, ostensibly because it will cause too much traffic disruption. Gay rights campaigners in the Hungarian capital claimed that the decision was politically motivated and are planning to challenge it in court. Permission had already been granted for the event and organisers applied for an extension to the usual route to march past parliament. They hoped to hold a rally to protest against Hungary’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage. But after agreeing to stop the march before reaching parliament, they were told that permission for Pride had been withdrawn entirely.
The reason given – that traffic would be disrupted – was rejected by organisers. Sandor Steigler, head of the organising Rainbow Mission Foundation, told AFP: “We suspect that the decision was politically motivated… a lot of things have happened in politics since the last march.” Budapest Pride has been heavily guarded by police in the last two years.
In 2008, 1,500 people joined a gay rights demonstration and Hungarian police were forced to use tear gas and a water cannon to clear the route for marchers to leave. There were also violent scenes at Pride in 2007, which was plagued by skinheads and fascists shouting abuse and throwing petrol bombs at the peaceful marchers.
17 February 2011 – PinkNews
Amnesty International asks Hungary to allow Budapest gay Pride
by PinkNews.co.uk Staff Writer
Human rights charity Amnesty International has asked Hungary to allow this year’s Budapest Pride. After asking permission to hold a rally outside parliament, organisers were told that the entire march would be banned. Police said it would cause traffic disruption but gay campaigners claimed the decision was politically-motivated. The march was scheduled for June 18th.
Amnesty said that the banning of the march was a “violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and non-discrimination as set out in several international human rights conventions to which Hungary is party”. It added that the ban was “disproportionate and without reasonable justification”. Police apparently did not object to the march before organisers asked to stop outside parliament.
18 February 2011 – PinkNews
Court overturns Budapest police’s ban of gay pride march
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The Budapest Metropolitan Court has overturned a police decision to deny permission for Budapest’s Pride march planned for June 18th 2011. The court overruled a decision made by the Budapest police on February 11th to deny an application by Rainbow Mission Foundation, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organisation, to extend the route of the 2011 Budapest Gay Pride March to the parliament building. The police had blamed their decision on concerns over traffic disruption, although campaigners said the decision was politically motivated.
“The court’s decision was a victory not only for the community of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, but for the right of all Hungarians to freedom of assembly,” said Boris Dittrich of New York based Human Rights Watch.
Budapest Pride has been heavily guarded by police in the last two years. In 2008, 1,500 people joined a gay rights demonstration and Hungarian police were forced to use tear gas and a water cannon to clear the route for marchers to leave.
March 10th, 2011 – Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Hungary’s draft constitution: A worrying signal for the EU Presidency
Hungary’s new constitution could restrict the national definition of family to fertile, heterosexual couples; deny protection from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; and prevent access to abortion, it emerged yesterday. Hungary currently holds the Presidency of the European Union until June 2011. Yesterday, the government coalition published the draft text for a new constitution (PDF, Hungarian), hoping Parliament will adopt the text on 18 April. In this draft, Hungary is bound to “protect the institution of marriage as a life community based on the voluntary decision of a woman and a man”*, and consider family “the guarantee of the survival of the nation”*.
Although the wording explicitly prohibits discrimination on grounds of “race, colour, sex, disability, language, religion, political or other views, national or social origins, ownership of assets”* or “birth”*, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will remain constitutional. The text also appears to unconditionally prohibit abortion, stating that “the life of the foetus shall be protected from the time of conception”*. Family law is exclusively within the remit of EU Member States, but as current President of the Council of the European Union Hungary is expected to represent the European Union abroad, and chair internal policy debates.
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: “Today the European Parliament condemned Hungary’s modified Media Law. And here comes yet another highly worrying signal from the Hungarian government, out of touch with the EU’s shared values of freedom and protection of minorities. The Presidency of the EU must act in line with these shared values: it means prohibiting discrimination on all grounds, explicitly including sexual orientation and gender identity. The founding texts of a nation cannot be used to serve the political interests of one government.”
Sophie in’t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “In his speech before the European Parliament on 9 March, the President of Hungary said we should ‘learn from past mistakes’. This should be part of it! We strongly urge the Hungarian parliament to reconsider the implications of erecting discrimination as national policy. It is shameful that a Member State of the European Union should enshrine discrimination into its constitution.”
March 30th, 2011 – Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Podcast: LGBT rights in Hungary
A new constitution with a narrow definition of family; a law on the media seeking to promote ‘traditional values’; the LGBT pride march almost banned… Hungary has been the focus of our work recently. In this episode, we discuss these recent developments and what they mean for LGBT people.
We’ve invited two Members of the European Parliament: Sophie in’t Veld and Rui Tavares. Sophie and Rui are Vice-Presidents of the LGBT Intergroup, and they’ve worked on the European Parliament resolution on the media law in Hungary on behalf of their political groups.
Link to podcast
6 April 2011 – PinkNews
Hungary gay groups to protest against new constitution
by Jessica Geen
Gay rights groups in Hungary are to protest over the country’s new draft constitution, which they say includes a ban on same-sex marriage. The wording of the draft constitution says that the country protects the institution of marriage “between man and woman”. Gay rights activists have begun a petition against the constitution and have formed an umbrella movement, the Coalition for Gay Equality (MEGYEK) to hold demonstrations outside parliament.
The draft constitution states that everyone is equal under the law. But unlike gender, race, age and a myriad other characteristics, it does not mention discrimination protections for LGBT people. It also appears to ban abortion by saying that foetuses will be protected from conception onwards. Gay campaigners will hold a demonstration on April 15th and say they have collected more than 700 signatures opposing the draft constitution.
The country does not currently recognise gay marriage or allow gay couples to adopt. Since 2002, it has had an equal age of consent and gay people may serve in the military. This year’s Budapest Pride was almost banned when authorities claimed that it would cause too much traffic disruption. A court overturned the ban after gay groups appealed.
19 April 2011 – PinkNews
Hungary approves new ‘anti-gay’ constitution
by Jessica Geen
Hungarian politicians have approved a new constitution which bans gay marriage. The document restricts marriage to heterosexuals and does not protect LGBT people from discrimination. It also appears to ban abortion by saying that foetuses will be protected from conception onwards. Yesterday, 262 members of the 386-seat parliament voted for the new constitution. Forty-four voted against and the opposition left-wing Socialists and green LMP party boycotted the vote.
The current constitution dates back to 1949 and leading party Fidesz has argued that a new one is vital for economic growth. Lawmakers said the constitution was based on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights but gay rights activists have questioned why it does not mention discrimination protections for LGBT people. Other characteristics such as gender and race are protected.
The Hungarian organisation of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said this decision “expresses a preference for an explicitly defined family model, a certain way of life and conveys the message that it does not wish to become the constitution of those who wish to pursue a different way of life”. Amnesty International warned that the omission would contradict international human rights laws and the country’s own equal opportunity rules. The restriction on marriage would prevent gay couples gaining marriage equality in the future, it added.
Hungary allows gay couples to register their partnerships but does not currently recognise gay marriage or allow gay couples to adopt. Since 2002, it has had an equal age of consent and gay people may serve in the military. This year’s Budapest Pride was almost banned when authorities claimed that it would cause too much traffic disruption. A court overturned the ban after gay groups appealed.
June 18, 2011 – NPR
Police Protect Gay Pride Rallies Across Balkans
Sofia, Bulgaria – Gays and lesbians marched in several Eastern European capitals Saturday protected by hundreds of riot police after some extremist groups urged members to stop the Gay Pride rallies. Nearly 1,000 people joined the fourth Gay Pride rally in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, organizers said. Twice as many paraded through the Croatian capital of Zagreb under rainbow arches of balloons and banners for that city’s 10th Gay Pride march. Hungarian gay rights activists also took to the streets in Budapest, flanked by police in full riot gear.
Gays and lesbians face widespread hostility in the region’s macho-dominated societies, and opposition to their public events has been fierce. "I am here because I am tired of being afraid," Deya Georgieva, 19, said in Sofia. "It is really ridiculous that in a country pretending to be European its citizens are denied some basic rights." Police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said 2,000 people marched through central Zagreb, protected by more than 700 policemen. Police detained 17 people for insulting the marchers and holding anti-gay banners. Some prominent public figures joined the Zagreb parade, which was dubbed "The Future is Ours." The Zagreb rally came a week after thousands of extremists disrupted a gay pride event in the coastal city of Split, throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers.
Croatia, which has pledged to protect human rights as part of efforts to join the European Union, provided extensive security for Saturday’s rally. After years of tough negotiations, EU officials said earlier this month that Croatia could join the 27-nation bloc in 2013. Due to extremist violence during previous gay rights parades, Sofia city hall rejected an anti-gay group’s demand to hold a parallel rally. Gay Pride organizers, however, said extremists used social networks to drum up resistance.
Guarded by hundreds of police and private security, the mostly young marchers walked peacefully through downtown Sofia displaying colorful banners calling for love, equality and sexual diversity. "We are here because we exist" read one banner. "Be aware whom you hate, because it could be someone you love" proclaimed another.
Gays in Bulgaria face widespread hostility despite a 2003 anti-discrimination law that protects their rights. One young man said his parents were unaware of his sexual orientation. "They belong to another generation, and for them the issue is taboo," said 18-year-old Nikolay, who would not give his last name for fear of discrimination.
On Friday, the United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people in a cautiously worded declaration. The resolution was hailed by supporters, including the United States, as a historic moment but decried by some African and Muslim countries for introducing ideas that "have no legal foundation."
June 19, 2011 – UK Gay News
Fifty Austrians Detained by Police in Budapest Following Gay Pride – Two held overnight as neo-Nazis allege an attack on them
Vienna, Two Austrian participants in the Budapest Gay Pride were arrested yesterday, following the annual parade. They were detained overnight and released in the early hours of this morning. All together, some 50 participants who had travelled from Austria on a bus chartered by the Austrian Student Union to take part in the Budapest Pride were detained by police for almost two hours as they prepared to leave the Hungarian capital for the journey home.
“It was after the parade and we were walking back to our bus to travel home to Vienna when we were physically attacked by around 15 people with terribly smelly sprays, reported Judith Götz, who also writes for LAMBDA-Nachrichten, the magazine of Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien. When we escaped into the bus, the neo-Nazis told the police, who were also present, that they would have been attacked by us. The police then brutally dragged all 50 of us out of the bus. We had to hand over our passports and were put, one by one, in front of the group of neo-Nazis so that they could ‘identify’ those who had allegedly attacked them. The neo-Nazis then randomly picked two of us as having attacked them,” she said
The two people were then arrested. While the rest of the Austrian group were, after almost two hours, finally allowed to rejoin their bus and travel home to Vienna, the two participants arrested due to the false accusations of the neo-Nazis were only released early Sunday morning. The two, who have not been named, are reported by Austrian broadcaster ORF to now be back in Vienna. “We are really appalled by the handling of this affair by the Hungarian police, and we expect that this incident will have some sort of diplomatic sequel,” Kurt Krickler, secretary-general of HOSI Wien, told UK Gay News.
July 5th, 2011 – Intergroup on LGHT Rights
European Parliament disapproves of new Hungarian constitution
Today the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the revised Hungarian constitution. Recalling Hungary’s obligations under international human rights law, the Parliament noted that the new Basic Law of Hungary fails to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. European Parliament logoCiting widespread criticism of the new constitution by international bodies and human rights organisations , the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution which calls on Hungarian authorities to amend the new constitution, or adopt ordinary laws to protect human rights universally.
Notably, the text asks Hungary to “guarantee equal protection of the rights of every citizen”, and further “explicitly protect in the new Constitution all fundamental civil and social rights in line with Hungary’s international obligations, ban the death penalty, life imprisonment without parole and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, provide sufficient guarantees concerning the protection of fundamental rights, and make it clear that fundamental rights are acquired at birth and are unconditional”. The Intergroup on LGBT Rights had previously warned that the draft constitution failed to protect LGBT people’s rights; proposed a restrictive definition of ‘family’; and potentially affected women’s sexual health and rights.