Budapest Pride banned by police over ‘traffic concerns’

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This year’s Budapest Pride festival has been banned by police, ostensibly because it will cause too much traffic disruption.

Gay rights campaigners in the Hungarian capital claimed that the decision was politically motivated and are planning to challenge it in court.

Permission had already been granted for the event and organisers applied for an extension to the usual route to march past parliament.

They hoped to hold a rally to protest against Hungary’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage.

But after agreeing to stop the march before reaching parliament, they were told that permission for Pride had been withdrawn entirely.

The reason given – that traffic would be disrupted – was rejected by organisers.

Sandor Steigler, head of the organising Rainbow Mission Foundation, told AFP: “We suspect that the decision was politically motivated… a lot of things have happened in politics since the last march.”

Budapest Pride has been heavily guarded by police in the last two years.

In 2008, 1,500 people joined a gay rights 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 petrol bombs at the peaceful marchers.