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More than 20K attend Slovakia vigil after LGBTQ bar shooting

Two people killed outside establishment in Bratislava on Oct. 12



(Photo courtesy of Barbora Slivkova/Košice PRIDE)

A vigil held Friday evening in the Slovakian capital city to honor the two victims killed and a third who was badly wounded in a shooting outside of the Tepláreň bar, a popular LGBTQ establishment in the old city, was also attended by the nation’s president and the European Parliament’s vice president.

Organized by the Iniciatíva Inakosť, an LGBTQ NGO, there were more than an estimated 20,000 people, according to officials. The murders shook the tight-knit Slovakian LGBTQ community and its allies.

Slovakia is a fairly conservative European Union member country where same-sex marriage is not legal.

A spokesperson for the Polícia Slovenskej republiky, the country’s national police force, said that his agency has classified the shootings as premeditated murder, motivated by hatred of a sexual minority.

19-year-old Juraj Krajcik, the radicalized son of a prominent member of the far-right extremist Vlast party, had left social media posts filled with anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ messages including a so-called “manifesto” which the gunman had posted prior to the rampage.

Krajcik, who had an online history of hate-filled rhetoric had posted a picture of himself outside the Tepláreň bar this past August along with other writings and posts that led Polícia Slovenskej republiky investigators to conclude that the crime was planned.

Gunman’s August pictures taken in front of the Tepláreň bar from his Twitter& 4 Chan accounts

According to Polícia Slovenskej republiky, the gunman was outside of the bar for nearly an hour before opening fire at around 7 p.m. local time on Oct. 12. Investigators said multiple rounds were fired but did not disclose the number nor the weapon used. Police say he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

During the vigil for the shooting victims, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova told the crowd, “I’m sorry that our society was not able to protect your loved ones,” adding, “You belong here, you are valuable for our society.”

BBC Europe reported that European Parliament Vice President Michal Simecka was also at Friday’s event. Simecka expressed his determination to have the European legislature discuss the murders during a session next week.

“To express our sympathy, but also to call on the Slovak authorities to take clear steps to put an end to the language of hatred towards LGBTI people,” he said.

In addition to political leadership at Friday evening’s vigil, Elena Martinčoková, the president of the Association of Parents and Friends of LGBTI+ people, spoke expressing her grief and anger towards the environment in the country that fostered far-right hate.

In a Facebook post published by Košice PRIDE, she told the crowd;

“I’m going through a lot of pain. Since I heard about this tragedy, I’m in spirit with the parents of the murdered children. They were adults, but they were mainly children, grandchildren, cousins, friends, colleagues who will be greatly missed and the wound and pain the survivors will feel will never heal.

Many tragedies affect us in life, some of them cannot be prevented. Yes to some of them. And this is exactly the one that could have been prevented. Long-term and intensively spreading and inciting hatred towards LGBT+ people in our public space. It is hatred that blinds people, prevents them from thinking sober.

Certain people are responsible for this tragedy. They are the ones who are intensively and increasingly inciting and spreading hatred towards the LGBTI community. They are all over the place. In the National Council of Slovakia, in government, among many church representatives, in extremist groups, among disinformation spreaders and those who do not have credible information, or when they have it, they do not understand them or do not want to understand. I hope this tragedy will not leave the public indifferent. We must act, we must act now. We will not be quiet. We are not going to be intimidated.”

Video via România liberă, a Romanian daily newspaper founded in 1943 and currently based in Bucharest:


European Union

Hungarian government vows to fight EU over anti-LGBTQ law

Justice Minister Judit Varga filed Court of Justice complaint on March 8



The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

In a Facebook post on March 8, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga stated that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government would continue to battle the European Commission over Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ education law the European Union’s governing body maintains discriminates against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Varga wrote in her post [translated]:

“Today I filed a complaint with the Court of the European Union regarding the breach of obligations initiated under the Hungarian Child Protection Act. We continue to stick to our conviction and those enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, that education is a national jurisdiction and it is the right of the parents to decide on the upbringing of children.

As before, we will continue to go against the wall when it comes to the protection of our children. Cases revealed in recent weeks prove that there is a great need for the Child Protection Act and even further measures.

Hungary will not surrender!

Today I filed a counterclaim to the Court of Justice of the European Union over the infringement procedure on Hungary’s Child Protection Act. We continue to stand by our conviction and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that education is a national competence and that parents have the right to decide on the upbringing of their children.

Like before, we will go clear on to the end when it comes to protecting our children. The cases that have come to light in recent weeks clearly shows the need for a child protection law as well as further measures.”

Orbán on July 8, 2021, signed the law that banned the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery to minors in Hungary. At the time, the Háttér Society, a Hungarian LGBTQ and intersex rights group said in a statement:

“The homophobic and transphobic amendments to the law, which came into force on July 8, 2021, stigmatize LGBTQI people, deprive LGBTQI youth of information that is vital to them, and illegally restrict freedom of speech and the right to education.” 

Reuters reported the standoff comes at a time when the EU has suspended the disbursement of billions of euros of much-needed EU funds to Hungary until Budapest implements reforms to improve judicial independence and tackle corruption.

Orban, who has publicly proclaimed that he is a “defender of traditional family Catholic values,” has been criticised by international human rights groups as discriminating against LGBTQ people with this law which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called a “disgrace.”

The European Commission referred Hungary to the EU Court of Justice over the anti-LGBT law in mid-2022. The commission has said it considers that the law violates the EU’s internal market rules, the fundamental rights of individuals and EU values.

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European Union

Spanish lawmakers approve landmark transgender rights bill

Anyone over 16-years-old can legally change gender without medical intervention



Spanish parliament (Photo by adamico/Bigstock)

Spanish lawmakers on Thursday gave their final approval to a bill that would allow people who are at least 16-years-old to legally change their gender without medical intervention.

Deutsche Welle reported 191 Spanish MPs voted for the measure, while 60 opposed it and 91 abstained.

Trans people in Spain previously needed to prove a doctor had diagnosed them with gender dysphoria and show evidence they had undergone hormone therapy for at least two years in order to legally change their gender. A minor who wanted to legally change their gender needed to obtain a judge’s approval.

The bill that Spanish MPs approved applies to anyone who is at least 16-years-old.

Teeangers who are 14- or 15-years-old can seek to legally change their gender with approval from a parent or legal guardian. A judge still needs to approve requests from 12- or 13-year-olds. 

Deutsche Welle reported the bill also bans so-called conversion therapy and includes provisions to address discrimination based on gender identity in employment, education and housing.

“This law recognizes the right of trans people to self-determine their gender identity, it depathologizes trans people,” said Equalities Minister Irene Moreno before the vote. “Trans people are not sick people, they are just people.” 

Four Spanish LGBTQ and intersex rights groups — FELGTBI+ (the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transgender People, Bisexuals, Intersexuals and More), Chrysallis, the Association of Families of Transgender Children and Youth and Fundación Triángulo — in a statement celebrated the bill’s passage.

“It is fundamental that what is reflected in the law makes us one of the countries with the most advanced legislation in terms of LGTBI+ rights,” said FELGTBI+ President Urge Sangil. “This translates into real rights.”

The statement adds the bill’s passage is “only the first step to stop hate towards the LGTBI+ community and hate speech.”

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European Union

USAID administrator meets with Hungarian LGBTQ activists

Meeting with Samantha Power took place on Feb. 10 in Budapest



U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power speaks in Budapest, Hungary, last week. (Photo courtesy of USAID)

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power on Feb. 10 met with three LGBTQ and intersex activists in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

Budapest Pride President Viktoria Radvanyi and Hungarian Helsinki Committee Head of Advocacy András Léderer are two of the activists who met with Power.

USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings in a press release said the activists “discussed the experiences of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary and their efforts to increase understanding, support marginalized groups and improve the lives of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary” with Power.

“The administrator (Power) emphasized that the United States will continue to stand as an ally with LGBTQI+ people and all marginalized groups in their struggle for equality,” noted Jennings.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s crackdown on LGBTQ and intersex rights in Hungary.

Radvanyi on Monday noted to the Washington Blade it is “impossible to change your gender legally in Hungary” because of a 2020 law that “banned legal gender recognition of transgender and intersex people.” 

An anti-LGBTQ propaganda law that Radvanyi said was “copy and pasted” from Russia took effect in 2021. Hungarian MPs in 2020 effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children and defined marriage in the country’s constitution as between a man and a woman.

The European Commission last July sued Hungary, which is a member of the European Union, over the country’s propaganda law.

President Joe Biden in 2021 signed a memorandum that commited the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad as part of his administration’s overall foreign policy. David Pressman, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary, is openly gay.

Jennings in the USAID press release did not say whether Pressman attended the meeting with the activists, but it did note he met with Power before she left Budapest. Radvanyi said the activists who attended “were all very honored that Administrator Power had a dedicated meeting just about the Hungarian LGBTQ community and LGBTQ issues.”

“We know that she has a very, very busy schedule,” Radvanyi told the Blade. “We really appreciated that she treated the case of our community as such a high priority.” 

Léderer described the meeting as a “very honest, sincere conversation on the situation of the Hungarian LGBT+ community.”

“In addition to how the community as a whole carries on amidst growing homo- and transphobic government policies and statements, she also wanted to know how individual members of the community, including those fighting for equal treatment and human rights, are coping with the hostile environment,” Léderer told the Blade, referring to Power. “We were happy to share great examples of resilience, including the successful campaign led by civil society organisations last year to invalidate the homo- and transphobic referendum initiated by the government by casting purposefully spoiled ballots.” 

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