This year’s Gay Pride parade ended near Parliament shortly after 6 pm local time on Saturday.
Organiser Szilvia Nagy told MTI that “there had never been so many participants” as this year. She added that they felt secure thanks to the police’s professional attitude to the event.
Budapest Police spokeswoman Katalin Fanni Horvath told MTI that “the marching event ended peacefully, without a need for police intervention”. She added, however, that police action was under way “in connection with another event”.
MTI’s on-site correspondent saw police detaining a man who was wearing a scarf with a swastika on it at the corner of Kossuth Square, after which a grapple began, with counter-demonstrators throwing tomatoes at the officers.
The counter-protest was attended by Gyorgy Gyula Zagyva, a deputy of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, who told police officers he was there as a private person.
The march had started amid heavy police presence in Budapest’s City Park on Saturday afternoon.
Participants gathered for the event in a police-enclosed area and warmed up to the march with speeches and music.
Sophie in’t Veld, vice-president of the LGBT group of the European Parliament, addressed participants and said that while up to half a million people attended Amsterdam’s pride march each year and the event was a popular celebration for the city, Budapest’s streets had to be cordoned off for the march. The MEP expressed hope that Budapest’s leaders would come to realise the importance of promoting Budapest as a tolerant city.
Ulrike Lunacek, Austrian member of the Green/Liberal group of the EP, said in her address that not only gays, bisexuals or transgender people were discriminated against and insisted that the fight must continue until equal chances are ensured to all groups of society.
The marchers walked across the city along Andrassy Boulevard, all side streets of which had been cordoned off by the police.
Participants included several deputies of the opposition Socialist and LMP parties.
US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis and several staff members of the embassy attended the event to express support for the LGBT community.
In a statement issued after the march, the embassy noted that US President Barack Obama had declared June Pride Month in an effort to call public attention to the gay community’s contribution to achivements of the nation.
The statement also referred to the US embassy’s signing an earlier declaration together with 15 other foreign representations in Budapest, voicing support for the LGBT community’s EuroGames held in the city last week and for the week-long Pride Festival now under way – the climax of which has traditionally been the parade on Saturday afternoon.
From 2007 to 2009, extremists attempted to disturb the parade and attacked participants, the police and foreign visitors. The 2010 Gay Pride parade was free from any major incidents, but last year about 500 counter-demonstrators tried to break the police cordon, pelting bottles at the officers who used tear gas against them.