Budapest (AFP) - Hundreds of Hungarians took part in a "Roma Pride" march in Budapest on Sunday to celebrate the country's largest ethnic minority, a community scarred by widespread prejudice.
Around 500 people walked through the city centre chanting "Opre Roma!" (Up Roma!) and holding placards of famous figures of ethnic-Roma background, like British actor Charlie Chaplin and Spanish footballer Jesus Navas.
"This day is about everyone, Roma and non-Roma, showing pride in our community, and our positive contributions to Hungary," main organiser Jeno Setet of the "We Belong Here" civil group said.
The Roma, also known as gypsies, make up about seven percent of Hungary's population of 10 million, and the minority group is one of the largest in central Europe, according to the Council of Europe.
"It's usually impossible to hear anything positive about us in the media however, or anywhere else," Setet told AFP.
The European Union member state's the Roma trail in practically every indicator from living standards to health, as they do throughout eastern and central Europe.
Widespread unemployment and poverty has also fuelled mistrust against the Roma, and deputies of the far-right party Jobbik -- the country's second-biggest party -- often make anti-Roma statements.
"A majority of Hungarian society doesn't want anything to do with the Roma," Mihaly Simon of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union rights group told AFP.
Gusztav Loli, 58, said Hungarians either forget or don't know about the sacrifices made by many Roma through history.
"My father was jailed in 1956 after fighting for Hungarian freedom (during the failed anti-Soviet uprising)," Loli said.
Setet said he planned to give the Hungarian government a petition urging it to include lessons about the Roma Holocaust in the school curriculum.
An estimated half a million European Roma perished in Nazi German death camps during World War II.
Other groups taking part in the march included those representing gay rights, the Jewish community and homeless people.
"Many minority groups here struggle against prejudice," Veronika Kozma of migrant and refugee rights group MigSzol told AFP.
"We are here today to show solidarity with the Roma."
Benjamin Abtan, of Paris-based co-organiser the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM), said the march was the last of 13 Roma Pride events to take place around Europe in October.
"Roma Pride is our answer to the rise of nationalism, racism and anti-semitism these days in Europe, and especially in Hungary," Abtan told AFP.