2,000 march in Budapest Pride

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After violent fascist attacks last year, this year’s Budapest Pride proceeded peacefully.

Two thousand people took part in the march on Saturday amid a massive police presence.

Although the huge security detail prevented any anti-gay groups infiltrating the march, it also meant that onlookers and well-wishers were kept at least a block away.

A two-metre steel fence was erected for the duration of the four kilometre parade route, which began in Heroes Square.

Forty-one people from various anti-gay and fascist groups were arrested during clashes with police, some for carrying explosives. The majority were released the following day.

Budapest police agency BRFK has said 17 people will be charged with assaulting a police officer, while 12 will be charged with other offences.

Police are searching for four men who attacked a lone woman who was wearing a t-shirt in support of Pride. She is thought to have been the only person who was hurt by extremists.

Last year, an estimated 1,500 people participated in an LGBT solidarity demonstration and Hungarian police were forced to use tear gas and a water cannon to clear the route for marchers to leave.

There were also violent scenes at Pride in 2007, which was plagued by skinheads and fascists shouting abuse and throwing items such as beer bombs, smoke bombs and petrol bombs at the peaceful marchers.

Several weeks ago, a joint statement from a number of countries expressed support for Pride events in the city.

The joint press release was issued by the Embassies of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“On the occasion of the 2009 Budapest Pride Festival, we express our support for, and solidarity with, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Hungary,” it said.