Many thousands attended the 21st annual Budapest Pride parade on Saturday afternoon. According to the organizers, the event drew more than 20,000 people, including numerous corporate sponsors and diplomatic representatives.
The parade started near Heroes’ Square, then moved down Andrássy avenue to Nagymező street, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre út and Alkotmány utca, finally ending at Kossuth tér, in front of Parliament. The parade included six trucks, one portraying paper cut-outs of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, President János Áder and Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós.
Police cordoned off intersecting streets and open areas to prevent anti-Pride demonstrators from spoiling the event. Undercover police were reportedly scattered among the mass of attendees. According to online news portal Index.hu, there was no sign of violence.
Cintia Karlik, spokesperson of Budapest Pride, told the crowd that while they must hold the parade behind cordons, they will never be completely free and brave. She added that Hungarian society is still biased, while politicians try not to pay attention to LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer) people.
“We won’t shut our mouth just because a few medieval decision makers want to tell us what family is,” Karlik said.
We don’t want fences
According to a report by Abcug.hu, parade-goers are increasingly disappointed by having to march behind fences. Ever since the violent clashes of 2008, Hungarian police have been paying extra attention to the festival. Every year the parade is protected by a large number of police and is cordoned off from the rest of the city. But as there have been no atrocities in the past few years, LGBTQ people and their supporters have been campaigning for a “parade without fences”.
“I was there in 2008, that really was awful,” said Györgyi, one of thousands who do not agree with the extra protection. “But much has changed since then.”
She and many others feel that cordons and fences alienate the festival from Budapest, and instead of supporting the cause, citizens are more preoccupied with roads being closed.
Embassies show their support
This year, a record 31 embassies in Hungary issued a joint statement celebrating the festival. This is not the first time they have shown their support. In 2015, 25 embassies backed the Budapest Pride event.
Diplomats and politicians alike attended, including Colleen Bell, ambassador of the United States, and Ilan Mor, ambassador of Israel, reported the news website Origo.hu.