One of the leading figures in Hungary’s LGBTI equality movement has died in an apparent suicide aged just 26-years-old.
Milan Rozsa rose to prominence as one of the most outspoken young activists on the Hungarian left in just four years of activism – taking prominent roles in not just campaigns to win equality for LGBTI people but also protests against attempts to tax internet usage in Hungary and a plan for Russia to finance a nuclear power plant in the country.
Rozsa made headlines in February of this year when he climbed over the fence of the Russian embassy in Budapest to protest Vladimir Putin’s treatment of LGBTI people and he was arrested earlier this month over an alleged attack on the headquarters of the ruling Fidesz Party over the proposed internet tax.
Rozsa is reported to have stepped in front of a train on Thursday night.
Some speculated whether the death was really a suicide. However friends said that Rozsa had been struggling with depression for some time.
Rozsa’s own father committed suicide a day after his son led the Budapest LGBTI pride march in 2011 only a year after it had been banned by authorities over fears of violence against marchers.
Tributes to Rozsa’s integrity have come from both friend and foe alike.
Conservative Hungarian blogger GÃ¡bor Balogh wrote on the website Jobbegyenes that Rozsa’s death had been a loss to the quality of the political debate in Hungary and that he would have ‘happily struggled and argued with [Rozsa] for many decades to come.’
‘He had more courage and honesty than many of the people who have made a living “fighting for democracy” for the past decades,’ Balogh wrote.
‘Milan undertook a public battle, based on his beliefs. I never shared his views and continue to reject these beliefs even today. But standing up and holding his ground, even when he was weighed down by depression, was truly heroic.’
Rozsa was also remembered by Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation who brought him to the US to attend a White House reception hosted by US President Barack Obama in 2012.
‘Milan Rozsa is a hero that we all lost today,’ Milk wrote on Facebook of an activist he had come to call a friend.
‘One of the great rewards of doing global face to face advocacy is becoming close friends with extraordinary human souls doing incredible work in the harshest of environments. One of the worst elements of doing this on the ground global work is losing so many of these amazing friends.
‘Anyone who has heard me speak on global rights in the last few years know that Milan had allowed me to publicly tell his inspiring story. This loss is just so terribly heart breaking but I do know Milan would want his story to continue to be told.’
Milk compared Rozsa to his uncle Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to political office in the United States who’s life was also tragically cut short.
‘So much light was brought into this world by Milan Rozsa’s example of courage,’ he wrote.
‘Milan surely joins my uncle in that ray of light that is born of an all too short life that leaves behind a huge beacon of hope for us all. Rest in peace my dear friend.’
A memorial Facebook page has been set up for those wishing to pay tribute to Rozsa’s life and legacy.