Saturday, 7 July 2007

Anti-Gay Attacks Mar Hungary and Croatia Gay Pride

According to AP news agency, several hundred skinheads and right-wing activists threw rotten eggs and smoke bombs at people participating in a gay rights parade in Hungary's capital Budapest on Saturday. Police detained several of the protesters and tried to disperse the rest, some of whom threw beer bottles at police. No injuries were reported.

Members of the right-wing Movement For A Better Hungary and the Hungarian National Front said they were angry about two recent developments. On Thursday, Gabor Szetey , a state secretary in the prime minister's office, announced he was gay and started a political process to break the taboo of being gay in Hungary, while the smaller party in the Socialist-led ruling coalition said it would seek to legalise gay marriages.

Some 2,000 people participated in Saturday's march, which took place over several kilometers, from Heroes' Square to the foot of one of the bridges over the Danube River.

In the meantime, similar scenario was developing in neighbouring Croatia. According to AFP, violence marred a Gay Pride march through the centre of the Croatian capital Zagreb. Organisers said more than 20 marchers had been the target of homophobic attacks. "Around 10 people were hurt, with two needing medical treatment," Marko Jurcic, one of the organisers, told AFP. Italian senator Gianpaolo Silvestri was in one of the groups attacked, but was unhurt, Jurcic said.

Police said the eight arrests were made for threatening behaviour towards the marchers. "Five of them were carrying what appeared to be Molotov cocktails, but the contents of the bottles they were carrying has yet to be analysed," police spokesman Marina Burazer said.

Earlier, around 200 gay people braved the jeers of onlookers to take part in the annual Gay Pride march through Zagreb to back demands for gay rights. The marchers were protected by almost as many police as they made their way through the city centre, jeered and taunted by around 20 youths.

*picture by Denis Lovrovic (AFP)

The leaders of the city's gay and lesbian association said they faced rejection, discrimination, job dismissals and physical assault in Croatia, whose population of 4.4 million is nearly 90 percent Roman Catholic. The Croatian parliament passed legislation giving limited recognition for same-sex unions in 2003.

Three days ago, Human Rights Watch launched online photographic celbration of Gay Pride marches from cities around the world. As Celine Casey from PinkNews noted, it "captures the courage, the exuberance, and the human faces of LGBT people’s Pride marches on five continents, over more than a decade. "

These two pictures from that photo essay particularly touched me and are very relevant in the light of today's events and continuous anti-gay violence in Eastern and central Europe, and world-wide.

A participant in Jerusalem's Gay Pride continues to march after he was stabbed by a homophobic protester, July 1 © 2005 Reuters Limited

An anti-gay nationalist mob beats a gay activist during the first attempt to hold Gay Pride in Belgrade, Serbia, June 30 © 2001 Reuters Limited

No comments: