Thousands of Hungarians joined the annual Budapest Pride march today to support LGBTQ people and protest against a law that limits teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues in schools.
Maria Walsh, MEP for Midlands North-West, was among the attendees and she features in a video from the event posted on Twitter.
"We are here to show support for our Hungarian rainbow family members, activists and allies," she said.
"We are here to shout from the rooftops that fundamental human rights and equality is a principle of the European Union and therefore needs to be respected and supported."
Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has introduced social policies that he says aim to safeguard traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, stoking tensions with the EU.
The European Commission has launched legal action against Mr Orban's government over the new law, which came into force this month, saying it is discriminatory and contravenes European values of tolerance and individual freedom.
Budapest Pride 2021 ?????????? A beautiful route planned by @budapestpride A monumental day ahead for activists, allies & our Rainbow communities ACROSS Europe. (FYI: the black emojis represent where Anti-LGBTI protesters are due to stand ??) ???? pic.twitter.com/rvOaDJPn7Y— Maria Walsh MEP (@MariaWalshEU) July 24, 2021
Demonstrators at the march through the streets of central Budapest said the legislation was dividing the former Soviet-bloc nation and now a member of the European Union.
"The law is an outrage. We live in the 21st century, when things like that should not be happening. We are no longer in communist times, this is the EU and everyone should be able to live freely," Istvan, 27, said at the march with his boyfriend.
President Orban's Fidesz-Christian Democrat government, which faces a tough election next year, says LGBTQ rights and other such social issues are matters for national governments to decide. It says the law aims to protect children not target homosexuals.
Organisers said in a statement the rally would show opposition to "power-hungry politicians" and reject intimidation of LGBTQ people.
"Instead of protecting minorities, the Fidesz-Christian Democrat government is using laws to make members of the LGBTQ community outcasts in their own country," they said.
A survey last month by the Ipsos polling organisation found that 46% of Hungarians supported same-sex marriage.
More than 40 embassies and foreign cultural institutions in Hungary issued a statement backing the Budapest Pride Festival, including the Embassy of Ireland in Budapest.
The Embassy of ????in ???? is proud to coordinate the Joint Statement on the Occassion 26th Budapest Pride Festival.— Ireland in Hungary (@irlembbudapest) July 19, 2021
42 Embassies, representations & cultural institutions showing support & solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community in ???? ???????@budapestpride @dfatirl @HumanRightsIRL pic.twitter.com/SYkK4yCiKH
"We encourage steps in every country to ensure the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity," wrote the signatories, including the US, British and German embassies.