BACKGROUND MATERIAL – Police Let Down LGBT March Participants – Hungarian LGBT Organisations Demand Justice

Posted: júl 27, 2007 in ! english, politika & aktivizmus

Neo Nazi gangs attacked the peaceful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender march with bottles and Molotov cocktails on 7 July 2007 in Budapest, Hungary. The police failed to protect both the march and the participants of a party afterwards, say Hungarian human rights organisations. Police did not dissolve the armed assembly, did not reply to emergency calls and did not patrol in the area.

Neo Nazi demonstrators attacked the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender march on 7 July 2007 in Budapest, Hungary. They were throwing bottles, eggs and Molotov cocktails from an arm’s length at the peaceful demonstrators. Several participants were injured by the bottles and splinters, one lorry caught fire from a Molotov cocktail, and some participants needed hospitalisation.

The police failed to dissolve the armed counter-demonstration. “Under the Hungarian Act on assembly the police must dissolve any armed assembly,” says Gábor Kuszing from Patent – People Against Patriarchy. “Bottles in this case, and of course Molotov cocktails, are considered weapons as they are capable of causing death or injury. The law leaves no room for consideration, the police must have dissolved the counter-demonstration.”

But the police failed to protect the participants of the Pride Day March in other ways, too. Some eight counter-demonstrators were arrested after they attacked the March, but the police did not prevent theses attacks and their presence was sporadic. “They did not step in between the two demonstrations or form a wall. Where I was walking, I could see no police officers in sight. If I was not injured it is not because the police were there, but because no counter-demonstrator decided throw a bottle at me” says Kuszing who participated in the March. Several witnesses attest that police officers were watching counter demonstrators throw objects at the participants but did not act.

The party after the March was under blockade for hours until some of the counter-demonstrators left. The police also left despite reports that groups of counter-demonstrators remained in the parks and streets around the party. By 1 a.m., 11 cases of queer bashing were reported.

The police did not patrol in the area and did not react to emergency calls. According to the cases Patent collected, one officer on duty refused to react to an emergency call saying he had been on duty since 7 a.m. and his working hours were over. In another case, the police refused to act in any way saying the attack had happened, the victims are no longer in danger. When a victim called the ambulance, they replied that his wound would heal by itself and did not react. “The attacks could have been prevented, if the police had not left and had taken our calls seriously,” says Kuszing who called the police himself several times. “We saw two transgender persons being beaten up, and the police was nowhere.” According to the statement of the NGOs the police should have been patrolling in the area, and should have identified and followed suspects to prevent further crimes.

Although the March received threats in previous years, there has never been an attack of this scale. Earlier marches went peaceful and in a mood of celebration. There were right-wing riots in Budapest in October last year, and in March and the signatory organisations say that the police could have foreseen that this year’s threats should be taken more seriously. The right-wing demonstrators announced their demonstration, which the police authorised.

The three organisations signing the petition-Patent – People Against Patriarchy, Gemini Dance Club and NANE Women’s Rights Association – demand that the counter-demonstrators and police officers responsible be called to account. They also demand a change in the Act on assembly so that demonstrations that are organised purposely to terrorise another event could be denied authorisation. Now, the Act on assembly leaves no room for consideration in this regard. The organisations also demand that the police negotiate with them on how similar events can be prevented.

Patent – People Against Patriarchy was founded in 2006 by professionals who had long been working in the field of violence against women and sexual minorities with the goal of changing the patriarchal social order into one that is based on the equality of women and sexual minorities. It maintains a legal aid service for discriminated and abused women, children and sexual minority people. It runs advocacy projects to change the legislation and legal practice affecting these groups.  (under construction currently)

Gemini Dance Club is a social dance club for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender dancers.

NANE – Women’s Rights Association was founded in 1994 and is an advocacy organisation in the filed of violence against women and children and gender based violence in general. It runs a helpline for battered women and children. It runs advocacy projects to change the legislation and legal practice on violence against women.

Budapest, 10/07/2007

This background material is for unlimited distribution, publication or quotation.

For further information please contact Patent.

Contact for the press:

Gábor Kuszing
Patent – People Against Patriarchy


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