Hungarian embassies forbidden from displaying rainbow flags

August 10, 2016


Foreign diplomats in Hungary have always been supportive of the annual Budapest Pride Festival, with a record 31 embassies issuing a joint statement this year celebrating the 21st festival. Many foreign embassies even displayed the rainbow flag in support of Hungary’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities.

Unfortunately, not everyone was happy about public support: last week, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico condemned the Slovakian embassy in Budapest for displaying the rainbow flag.

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry has avoided such controversy by explicitly forbidding Hungarian embassies from displaying flags other than those of Hungary and the European Union – or, in some cases, the flags of Hungarian minority groups.

Daily online asked the ministry what rules apply to flags flying above embassy buildings. In response, the ministry confirmed that rainbow flags are not allowed, nor is any flag other than that of Hungary or the EU.

Not in the UK

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has lifted a ban on UK embassies and high commissions flying the rainbow flag during gay pride events.

In one of his first policy shifts since coming to office, Johnson overturned the decision of predecessor Philip Hammond, who insisted that only the Union Jack, the EU’s blue-and-gold flag and the flags of the nations and overseas territories of the United Kingdom could be flown from Foreign Office buildings.

No flags please

In 2014 László Kövér, President of the Hungarian Parliament, refused to display the EU flag outside the Parliament building. Since that time only the Hungarian and Szekler flags can be seen in Kossuth square.

In the same year, Kövér confiscated two EU flags from the Socialists in the chamber of MPs, saying it was against the rules to bring them in. In an interview given to Hungarian news website, the Speaker argued that the action of the Socialist MPs was only political provocation.

“The chamber of the Hungarian Parliament belongs to Hungarian MPs only. This is not the European Parliament,” he added.