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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 28
Euro Nazis disrupt Pride in Hungary and Poland
Section One
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Euro Nazis disrupt Pride in Hungary and Poland

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

While most of Europe observed Pride festivities with the usual exuberance and joy, neo-Nazi thugs disrupted Pride marches in Budapest, Hungary, and Czestochowa, Poland. Police intervened on the side of the LGBT marchers in Budapest but on the side of the Nazis in Czestochowa.

On July 9, more than 10,000 people attended the 23rd annual Pride event in the Hungarian capital, but they soon found their path blocked by a group of black-clad men holding banners.

The men, apparently members of the Betyársereg, or 'Army of Outlaws,' a paramilitary group associated with the far-right political group Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement. Its name refers to the fact that the pre-World War I Kingdom of Hungary had 64 counties and extended into modern Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia.

People in the parade peacefully chanted at the men, while some played musical instruments and waved rainbow flags. Riot police deployed between the Pride marchers and the neo-Nazis. Some people on the ground reported feeling threatened by the police presence until they realized they were there to remove the neo-Nazi group, which they did without difficulty, accompanied by cheers from the Pride marchers.

Later, Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst performed at the Budapest Pride closing party. She congratulated the parade participants for showing courage during the incident.

'It is very important to me to be here today, the rights of the LGBTIQ community are not where they should be,' Wurst said to the crowd during her performance.

'The people who went to the Pride and were on the verge of being attacked by right-wing demonstrators showed great courage, and I want to highlight this situation.'

Despite the disruption, parade goers told Gay Star News that the day was 'a great success' and 'a fantastic event to be part of.'

In Poland, however, things went much differently.

About 1,000 people with rainbow flags and umbrellas marched on the Catholic Jasna Gora shrine in the city of Czestochowa, where the country's notoriously anti-LGBT prime minister was giving a speech.

A few dozen neo-Nazis blocked the route, carrying banners with homophobic messages. The neo-Nazis chanted 'National Czestochowa.'

They were joined by police, who prevented the LGBT march from going forward.

After the march, Poland's internal affairs minister instructed the police to prosecute the LGBT marchers, accusing them of 'desecrating' the White Eagle, Poland's national symbol, by placing it on a rainbow shield instead of the traditional red one.

Government Minister Joachim Brudzinski also charged the LGBT marchers with provoking the neo-Nazis, whom he characterized as innocent pilgrims on their way to the Jasna Gora shrine. 'The policemen reacted and, in this case, charges will be pressed for contempt and desecration of the national symbols. That's the Polish police is so trusted among Polish people [sic],' he wrote.

If the marchers are prosecuted for desecrating the national symbol, they face up to a year in prison. Recently, the frontman of Polish metal band Behemoth was formally charged by Polish authorities for desecrating the symbol in tour artwork and merchandise.

According to Rémy Bonny, a political scientist specializing in LGBT politics in post-communist countries, the threat of prosecution may have a partisan subtext.

'One of the biggest opposition leaders in Poland is openly gay and is especially popular amongst young people,' Bonny said. 'A vibrant gay scene emerged in the bigger Polish cities as well in the last decade.'

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