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Hungarian police give official thumbs up to Saturday's gay parade
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08:17, September 01, 2009

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Budapest police officially announced on Monday that they were registering this coming Saturday's Gay Pride parade, and warned residents to expect significant road closures during the event.

Police can ban events or register them, but they do not grant permits.

The parade is a manifestation of the right to assembly of Hungarian citizens, said a police statement. "All citizens in Hungary have the right to demonstrate and to express their opinions," it added.

Last Friday, Ilona Ekes, a member of the main opposition Fidesz Party called on the police to ban the gathering, saying it could create fear and revulsion in people and endanger the development of minors. And she called for a social and professional dialogue on homosexuality, which she called a "mental injury."

Fidesz is currently Hungary's most popular party, and is expected to easily win parliamentary elections next year. The party's media chief, Bertalan Havasi, said that Ekes had only been voicing her personal opinion, to which he had nothing to add.

Meanwhile, 13 foreign embassies in Budapest, including those of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, issued a joint statement supporting the right of the gay community to hold a peaceful and lawful parade in its effort to break the silence surrounding its existence.

Other Hungarian political parties -- the ruling Socialists, the liberal Free Democrats, and the conservative MDF -- have come out in favor of the march on Monday, while the small Christian Democrat People's Party called it a provocation and asked for a police ban.

American film star Whoopi Goldberg sent a video message of support to organizers of the Gay Pride event.

She said she had been following the violent events surrounding Hungary's parade for several years, and thought it was important to call for tolerance.

"I believe that we all differ from one another but we all still want the same thing: freedom, respect, love, and peace," Goldberg said in a message of encouragement to the parade participants.

Police noted that last year they had made 57 arrests after paraders were attacked by people covering their faces with rocks, firecrackers, eggs, and gasoline bombs.

Source: Xinhua

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