European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Budapest police chief bans LGBT Pride March

On 11 June 2008, Dr. Gábor Tóth, the Budapest police chief, banned the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride March scheduled for 5 July 2008. The reason given is that the Pride March will hinder traffic.

ILGA-Europe is appalled by the decision of the Budapest police chief and urges Dr. Tóth to immediately reverse this decision to ban the Pride March and ensure that the Pride March takes place and is protected.

Peaceful LGBT Pride Marches have taken place in Budapest for years. However last year the participants of Budapest Pride March experienced attacks by right wing extremists. Unfortunately the situation where some individuals use violent and illegal methods to limit the freedom of expression and assembly for LGBT people by attacking them is not uncommon in a number of European countries. However, it is a positive duty of states and police to ensure that peaceful demonstrations and other public events take place without disturbance and are protected from violence.

The European Court of Human Rights has extensive case-law on the issue of the freedom of assembly and expression. The Court has confirmed that LGBT people are equally entitled to the right to peaceful assembly and expression. The Court also stated in a number of decisions that the freedom of assembly and expression is one of the central rights in a democratic society and the state and the police have a positive duty to ensure this right is guaranteed with minimal restriction.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We are appalled by the decision of the Budapest police chief. We consider his decision as a sign of giving in to the threats of ultra nationalists. The traffic hindrance explanation and an earlier suggestion to the LGBT activists to organise a stationary event in an area remote from the city centre are just excuses for the unwillingness of the Budapest police chief to take his responsibilities seriously to ensure order.

One of the main objectives of any LGBT Pride March is to raise visibility for the LGBT community and communicate the community’s concerns and issues to the wider public. The police should not be preoccupied with making their lives and jobs easier by banning the demonstrations or sending the participants away from the public. It is the duty of the police to ensure that each citizen or group of citizens has a right to assemble, and express their view and opinions without interference. The law in Europe and Hungary on this subject is clear and the police are there to obey and enforce the law.”

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org

(2) More information about ILGA-Europe’s campaign on freedom of assembly and expression: http://www.ilga-europe.org/europe/campaigns_projects/freedom_of_assembly...

(3) The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights on banning LGBT Pride March in Warsaw in 2005: http://www.ilga-europe.org/europe/guide/country_by_country/poland/europe...