- 1 Jul 2014 8:00 AM
Budapest Pride received a notice from the Government Control Office on 19 June 2014 to provide all documentation, invoices, balances and proof of project activities in an electronic format within four days. The agency wants to check the legality of Budapest Pride's spending funds received from the Norwegian Government.
However under Hungarian law the Government Control Office is only entitled to check the spending of finances received from Hungarian governmental sources or the European Union. Norway is not part of the European Union but funds organizations as part of its foreign aid policy that work among other areas in the field of democracy, gender equality and environmental protection.
“We question the legality of this check-up as we have not asked, nor received any funding from the Hungarian government in the past years,” said Dominika Milanovich, spokesperson of Budapest Pride. “We believe in transparency so, in addition to our annual reports that are already on our website, we plan to publish the requested data, so that the public can decide for themselves if the funds were spent lawfully” she added.
The check-ups from the Government Control Office come after the Hungarian Government tried to pressure the Norwegian Government in vain to change the composition of the board that grants the funds of the Norwegian Civil Fund. Organizations that provide direct political support to the Hungarian Government had earlier been ruled out as members of the board.
The Hungarian Government compiled a list of grantee organizations that it calls left-wing, and many of which received similar requests from the Government Control Office. Organizations include LGBTQ organizations, women's rights organizations and human rights and transparency organizations, some of which also denied to cooperate. “We believe that the aim of the check-ups is to threaten the Hungarian non-governmental sector and to render its operation impossible.”
The move has also provided an opportunity for spreading homophobia and xenophobia. “We were appalled to see a television broadcast on the website of the Government Control Office on how the case leads to the 'homosexual lobby' and showing a Magyar fighter destroying a sweater with a Norwegian pattern. It is unthinkable why an investigative agency, similar to the police or the tax authority, posts such a news story unless they want to scapegoat rather than find out whether we do things legally,” Milanovich Dominika added.
Budapest Pride is the organizer of the annual pride festival and march in Budapest.
For more information on Budapest Pride see: budapestpride.com/about-us/about-the-organization