Thousands Hungarians joined the annual Budapest pride March on Saturday to support LGBT + people and protest against the law restricting the teaching of homosexuality and transgender problems in schools.
Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, who has been in power since 2010, has introduced a social policy that he says aims to protect traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, fueling tensions with the European Union.
The European Commission has filed a lawsuit against Orban’s government over a new law that came into force this month, claiming it is discriminatory and contrary to European values of tolerance and individual freedom.
Demonstrators marching in downtown Budapest said the law divides a former Soviet bloc country that is now a member of the European Union.
“The law is an outrage. We live in the 21st century, when this should not happen. We are no longer in communist times, this is the EU, and everyone should be able to live freely, ”said 27-year-old Istvan on the march with his boyfriend.
Orban’s Fidesz Christian Democrat government, which faces tough elections next year, says LGBT + rights and other such social issues should be decided by national governments. It says the law is aimed at protecting children, not homosexuals.
The organizers said in a statement that the rally would show opposition to “power-hungry politicians” and reject intimidation of LGBT + people.
“Instead of protecting minorities, the Fidesz Christian Democratic government is using laws to make members of the LGBT + community outcasts in their own country,” they said.
Orban owes part of his electoral success to a tough immigration policy. As this issue moved off the political agenda, its focus shifted to issues of gender and sexuality.
Boglarka Balas, a 25-year-old economist who joined the rally, said the law was a campaign tool. “This is nothing more than a sabotage that is trying to tear the country apart. This is a provocation because of the elections, ”she said.
A poll by Ipsos last month found 46 percent of Hungarians support same-sex marriage.
More than 40 embassies and foreign cultural institutions in Hungary have issued a statement in support of the Budapest Pride Festival.
“We encourage steps in every country to ensure the equality and dignity of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” wrote the signatories, including the embassies of the US, UK and Germany.
Balint Berta, 29, who works in a clothing store, said the law creates artificial tensions in society. “The more politics incites to this, the more society will change, and people will rebel against each other after a while,” he said.