Thousands defy Orb'n with festive Pride parade backing gay rights in Hungary

Click play to hear this article from Amazon PollyBUDAPEST Thousands marched Saturday in solidarity with the country's LGBTQ+ community to protest against government rhetoric and new legislation that targets sexual minorities. This has been condemned by Hungary's European Union partners.The Pride parade was joined by members of the European Parliament through Budapest. The mostly young participants kept a festive mood despite the tension by dancing to Abba songs, waving rainbow flags, and generally being jolly. There was also a feeling among high school students that this was an act defiance.We have had a government attack on the LGBTQI community in the last two years, as well as a lot hate speech, restrictive legislation regarding transgender rights, adoption and, most recently, a Russian propaganda law. Tams Dombos is a board member of Httr Society which is a Hungarian rights organization.He said that many people showed support for his government and showed that they are not all like him. It was really great to see so many people there.The organizers estimated that there would be around 30,000 people. The crowd packed the streets of downtown and the Szabadsg bridge across the Danube in the summer heat. One participant stated that they had never seen a larger turnout at Budapest Pride in the past 20 years.The Hungarian parliament passed measures in June that prohibited minors from being exposed to homosexuality and sexchange issues. This decision, which has implications for educational programs as well as advertising, caused alarm in Hungary's LGBTQ community. The European Commission launched formal legal proceedings against Hungary.Ferenc Isza/AFP via Getty ImagesPOLITICO heard from many teenagers that the controversial legislation drove them to participate in a Pride march.We believe that all of the rights we have in heterosexual relationships should be ours, stated Rka, a 19-year-old who attended the parade with her friends for the first time.Pride means that you can love anyone you like, said Lia (16 years old), who was also at her first Pride event and added that she came because she had gay friends.A few far-right activists wore Defend Europe tee shirts and organized their own counterprotests. They waited near the Danube's banks, shouting insults and holding large Stop LGBT signs.Pride participants responded with shouts of love and cheers. There were no reports of violence.Prior to the next key parliamentary election, Hungary's political agenda will likely continue to be focused on LGBTQ+ rights.Viktor Orbn, the Prime Minister, unexpectedly requested a referendum on five questions relating to sexual minorities rights. Opponents criticised the move as an attempt to divert public attention from other issues that have put Orbn's nationalist government under strain, such as recent revelations about government critics having their phones targeted by the Pegasus spyware scam.Orbn stated in a video that the popular vote was necessary because Brussels had clearly attacked Hungary over recent weeks' restrictions on homosexuality portrayals. He said that Hungary can only be protected if the people unite when there is so much pressure.European politicians who attended Saturday's march insist that the EU's commitment to fundamental human right is at stake.Terry Reintke, a German Green MEP, stated that the European Union is more than an economic union. It is a union based on values. This includes the fundamental rights of all citizens, and not just white heterosexual men.Reintke joined the parade to address the crowd. He told POLITICO about how, following the recent escalated with Hungary's new measures, many MEPs decided that they would come to Budapest to show solidarity from across Europe.Maria Walsh, MEP from the Irish European Peoples Party, also shared this view.Walsh stated, "I am here as an activist ally, community member, and as an out lesbian." It is vital that we show solidarity to our community members now more than ever.Ferenc Isza/AFP via Getty ImagesA total of 30 countries, including the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom, have provided more international support for Hungary's LGBTQ+ community. Their embassies also issued a joint statement in support. Recent developments that could threaten the principle non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity were a concern.We encourage all countries to take steps to guarantee equality and dignity for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The embassies also stressed the importance of elected leaders and governments recognizing and protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ people.