Police ban Budapest gay pride

Police in Budapest have blocked Budapest's annual Gay Pride parade, according to organisers.

The move came after the Rainbow Mission Foundation, which organises the event, applied last week for an extension to the usual route to take the march in front of parliament.

There, marchers planned to protest against Hungary's controversial media law and the upcoming new constitution, both seen as detrimental to the cause of gay rights.

The Rainbow Mission eventually modified its request so that the march would have stopped short of the square. However, by Friday, permission for the entire march had been withdrawn, with police citing a disruption to traffic.

"We suspect that the decision was politically motivated... a lot of things have happened in politics since the last march," Sandor Steigler, head of the Rainbow Mission said. He added that the Rainbow Mission was preparing a court appeal.

Last year, Hungary's Socialist government was replaced by the conservatives of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, allowing it to amend the constitution.

A spokesman for the green opposition Politics Can Be Different (LMP) party called the ban "shocking and unacceptable" and said rights of free assembly were being curtailed on "trumped-up reasons".

Last year's pride march, the 15th year it has run, ended peacefully, but the event has often attracted counter-demonstrations that have occasionally turned violent. In 2008, anti-gay protesters attacked participants of the march.

Date: 15 February 2011


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