Travel in Hungary - how worried should we be?
May 18, 2014 3:39 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I (both female in our 30s) will be traveling to Central Europe soon and the last leg of our trip will be in Budapest. When we planned the trip, we simply forgot about the current political climate there (right-wing extremism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, you name it). How bad is it? Should we be extra-careful?

We are both Southern European and seasoned travelers. Generally choose not to travel to certain countries for safety or ethical reasons (India, for example). However, the situation in Hungary didn't cross our minds until a few days ago, when we were reading some news about extremists wanting to kill gays and then throw Jews into the Danube or something lovely like that. "Ugh, how awful. Oh wait -- we are going to be there!"

We aren't big on PDA but should we go as far as to book twin rooms?

Some input would be appreciated. Places to avoid, things to do or not to do and so on.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here is some information pulled straight from the U.S. Department of State's country-specific information for travellers to Hungary:

LGBT RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Hungary. Provisions of a new criminal code prohibit certain forms of hate speech and prescribe increased punishments for violence committed against members of the LGBT community when anti-LGBT bias is a motivating factor. Societal pressures however continue to make association with an LGBT identity difficult, but the government has stated its commitment to protecting LGBT rights and does recognize same sex partnerships, although not same sex marriages. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Hungary, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
posted by whitewall at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2014

There's plenty of gay bars in Budapest.
Budapest Pride.
The festival had been disrupted by "hooligans" in the past, according to Wikipedia.
2011 Gay Girl's Guide to Budapest. 2013 similar.
Out in the countryside and in smaller places, you might not be quite as comfortable with PDA, but I doubt that anyone is going to aggressively target you.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:45 PM on May 18, 2014

I haven't been in Hungary in years, so no first hand knowledge for you. But I'd go with my same-sex partner right now without any hesitation. My interpretation of the noxious right-wing stuff is that it's largely symbolic, flirting with fascism as a way to strengthen the hand of Fidesz. I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as the situation in Greece was a couple of years ago for foreigners, or even Russia for visibly gay people. As a visitor in a major European city I wouldn't be worried at all.

Budapest is an amazing city, have fun!
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on May 19, 2014

Do not worry yourselves, particularly in Budapest. I live in Hungary, and I usually tell visitors that if you don't speak Hungarian and don't read the local press you would not know there is a problem. The issue is one of internal Hungarian politics as practiced by editorial writers and right wing - and government - party activists. It is verbal violence, not physical, and as such is invisible to those who don't speak our secret language. The antisemitic and anti gay ( and racist and anti Gypsy and etc. etc...) speech are not topics considered acceptable in normal conversation, but they are a rhetorical political tool, not one of social control.

If you are walking around in the streets you probably won't feel any animosity unless you want to visit hard right wing Jobbik Party friendly bars or football games (look for the tricolor map of Old Greater Hungary on the door. You don't find many of those downtown.)

Harassment of tourists is very rare, and being gay in public is no big deal in Budapest. Don't worry about booking separate rooms, absolutely nobody will care. Hungary still has an extensive gay network, and active alternative night life and theater/art scene which is not hard to find, especially in Budapest. You will find people you want to talk to, and they will surely appreciate telling you a lot about their experiences and giving you any advice you might seek. Trust me, you will be OK.

Mefi-mail me if you have questions.
posted by zaelic at 1:52 AM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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