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Thousands join Budapest Pride to protest anti-LGBTQ+ policies

By Thomson Reuters Jun 22, 2024 | 9:51 AM

By Anita Komuves

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Carrying rainbow flags and dancing through the streets, thousands of Hungarians celebrated the annual Budapest Pride parade on Saturday and vowed to keep protesting over the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, promotes a Christian-conservative agenda and in 2021 banned the “promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s despite strong criticism from rights groups and the European Union.

“It’s very important to be here … to show we exist and that we matter,” said 30-year-old Anna Reti, who took part in the march in the capital, adding that many LGBTQ+ Hungarians face discrimination and hostility in everyday life.

“For example, I went out in the street the other day with some rainbow accessories and people stared,” she said.

Gay marriage is not recognised in Hungary and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children. Orban’s government has redefined marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the constitution, and limited gay adoption.

His government has said the 2021 law is meant to protect children and does not target the LGBTQ+ community, but it has caused anxiety among gay, bisexual and transgender Hungarians.

Last year, some booksellers were fined for selling books depicting homosexuality, which were not wrapped in plastic as required by the legislation.

And in November, a museum director was sacked after the institution allowed under-18s to visit a World Press Photo exhibition featuring LGBTQ+ content.

Ahead of Saturday’s march, the embassies of the United States, Germany and 33 other countries urged Hungary to protect LGBTQ+ rights and scrap laws that discriminate against members of the community.

U.S. Ambassador David Pressman was one of several diplomats to join the Pride event.

“This is an amazing country with a rich history of people standing up and fighting for freedom,” he told reporters. “The people here who are marching today are doing so in the best traditions of the country.”

(Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Helen Popper)