Hungary mothers in McDonald's breast-feeding protest

By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Hungary

  • Published
Breast-feeding protest in Budapest McDonald's (22 May 2015)Image source, Tury Gergely/HVG
Image caption,
It is said to be one of the few times in Hungary that breast-feeding women have gathered to show solidarity

Mothers in the Hungarian capital Budapest have occupied a McDonald's restaurant in protest against its move earlier this week to stop a woman from breast-feeding her baby.

Dozens of baby-carrying mothers entered a McDonald's near the Western Railway Station, sat down, bared their breasts and began feeding their babies.

The protest was against the treatment of the young mother on Wednesday.

A McDonald's statement blamed a security guard for the incident.

Women are welcome to breast-feed in McDonald's restaurants as part of the fast food chain's family-friendly policy, the statement said.

It added that an investigation into the incident had been launched.

Image source, Erika schmidt
Image caption,
Participants said the staff and diners were relaxed about the sit-in


"I was waiting for my sister who was due to arrive by train," the young mother caught up in the dispute wrote on Facebook.

"I fed my baby at home before I set out, in order to avoid this [breast-feeding in public], but it was 30C (86F) and my baby was very hot and thirsty.

"I went into the restaurant at nine in the morning and looked around for a quiet spot where I wouldn't disturb anyone.

"I asked a waitress and she said it would be fine."

But when she started the feed, a security guard told her she was not engaging in "accepted activity" in the restaurant.

The guard then went away to check with the manager, came back and asked her again to stop.

Image source, Erika Schmidt
Image caption,
Friday's protest attracted considerable media interest

When she told a friend what had happened the story spread further on Facebook and other social media - and Friday's sudden protest was organised.

"Very few women nurse their babies in public in Hungary, because they are afraid they will be harassed or treated disrespectfully," Erika Schmidt, a mother of three and member of the Birthhouse Foundation, told the BBC after taking part in the protest.

"This was the first time women have gathered to show their solidarity to each other - it was marvellous!" she said.

Another baby-feeding protester, Palma Fazakas, said that staff and other diners at the restaurant were "very friendly".

"The atmosphere was very good," she said.

The McDonald's restaurant where the incident happened is part of the Western Railway Station in Budapest, designed by the French architect Gustave Eiffel, which opened in 1877.

It has a reputation as one of the most beautiful McDonald's in the world.