Pride is Free, Court Puts Police Back in Its Place

On 23 April the Tribunal of the Capiptal overruled and repealed the decision of the Budapest Police Chief, which had previously banned the Budapest Pride March. Similarly to last year, the court accepted the arguments of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union's lawyer and rejected the 13-page-long justification of the police. The court ruled that there is no valid legal reason to prohibit the Pride March on the announced route.

The police argued that the expected 1500-attendee-march would cause traffic to be too heavy in Budapest, but failed to prove that it would make transportation impossible. According to the Act on the Right to Assembly, police shall ban the march if “the transportation can not be secured on an alternative route”. The decision of the police contains invalid and irrelevant arguments, including possible blocking of traffic and upcoming events, however, these fuzzy references are not grounds to ban the demonstration.

The court stressed that the police misunderstood its own task, which does not include the deliberation of concurring rights and public interests, since such deliberation have already been settled in the Act by the legislator. The only task of the police is to apply the close and objective criteria.

The court stressed that alleging confrontation between demonstrators and anti-demonstrators is also an unacceptable argument. If it was a valid claim, the police could ban any assembly, even on the grounds of shouting. Instead, police shall now secure the right to the peaceful assembly.

The traffic-related argument for the prohibition of an assembly has already been interpreted by Hungarian courts in several cases. In these cases, the court pointed out that “it is a serious expectation by the members of society towards the police to fully respect, apply and enforce the precedents".

„It is great news that the Hungarian court still stands up for the right to the freedom of assembly and rejects the police's arbitrary and discriminative interpretation. The police’s course of action is revolting, especially in light of the same scandal last year and in the attitude towards similar themed previous marches” – said Tamás Fazekas, the HCLU's lawyer.

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