Court reaffirms that police discriminated when banning the Budapest Pride March in 2012
On September 18, 2014 the Regional Court of Appeal of Budapest upheld the decision of the lower court and declared that the Budapest Police committed direct discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation when banning the Budapest Pride March in April 2012. The case was launched by Háttér Society and an individual, who were represented in court by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. The decision is binding.
As a reminder: the Budapest Police banned the Gay Pride March in 2011 arguing that it would have impeded traffic. This decision was overturned by the court that found the arguments of the police unfounded. Yet, a year later, on April 5, 2012 the Budapest Police banned the Budapest Pride March with the exact same arguments. Furthermore, during the year between the two decisions several demonstrations were allowed to take place with a significantly larger number of participants than the expected 1000 people at the Budapest Pride. Such demonstrations included the pro-government Peace March (Békemenet) with over 100,000 participants, yet, the police thought this would not cause such a disruption of traffic as the yearly LGBTQ event.
The case was launched by Háttér Society acting on behalf of the LGBTQ community and an individual who were represented in court by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. In January 2014, acting as a first instance court, the Metropolitan Court of Budapest agreed with the plaintiffs and decided that the ban by the Budapest Police amounted to direct discrimination, that is that the police treated the plaintiffs less favorably than participants of other demonstrations not banned. The first instance court also argued that the ban amounted to harassment as well, as the decision of the Budapest Police contributed to creating and strengthening a degrading, hostile and threatening environment based on sexual orientation. The court emphasized that the discriminatory decision of the police amplified the hostility towards the gay community already present in the society that manifests itself in violent counter-demonstrations.
The decision was appealed by the Budapest Police, and the individual submitted a supplementary appeal to get compensation.
In the decision delivered orally on January 18, 2014, the Regional Court of Appeal of Budapest arrived to the conclusion that the private individual did not have standing in this case and rejected his claim. On the other hand, the appeals court fully agreed with the lower level court that since the Budapest Police could not put forward any legitimate argument, their actions amounted to direct discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.
The court ordered the Budapest Police to issue a letter of apology and refrain from continuing with the practice.