The homophobic law adopted by the Hungarian government majority last month has a chilling effect on sex education and an enabling effect on bigotry.
The Hungarian government invested a lot of effort into spreading lies about the homophobic law recently adopted in Hungary. They claim that the EU officials who criticise the law are ignorant and have not even read its text. They say the law is about protecting the children from “paedophile criminals” and that it has nothing to do with “homosexuals”.
Orban himself assured EU journalists that he was one of the champions of the decriminalisation of homosexuality back in the 80s, and that he defends the rights of gay people even today. They claim all this fuss is generated by a hostile “LGBTQ lobby” that wants to undermine Hungary’s international reputation by spreading fake news.
This communication campaign may confuse some people in the West. But if you lookat the evidence of what is really happening in Hungary you will see it for what it is: gaslighting and disinformation.
“I can’t believe it’s real” – this is the reaction of many friends on social media these days in Hungary. It’s like going to sleep in one reality and waking up in a different, alternative reality.
Waking up to see billboard posters inciting hatred against migrants, Brussels, and George Soros – with an unbelievably stupid, primitive design (emoticons) – as you see below.
Waking up to see the headline of a local newspaper (pictured in the front), saying: “Even the children are not left alone by homosexuals”. Just like this, “homosexuals”. There are countries where the editor would be prosecuted for inciting hatred against a minority for this wording.
Waking up to the news that the largest commercial TV channel, RTL, had to cover up its billboard poster for a popular TV soap opera because it depicted a gay wedding.
Waking up to hear that a bookstore selling children’s books was fined by the authorities for selling a book about a rainbow family, claiming that the store “deceived” its customers by “mixing” a “non-normal” book among the conventional children’s books. An the official who sanctioned the bookstore advised them “to go to Africa or Asia”.
Waking up to an interview with a Catholic priest who accuses “LGBTQ lobbyist” of being “terrorists” (!) endangering the children.
Waking up to read the clueless posts of social workers, mental health workers, and psychologists asking the question at professional forums of whether they can discuss issues like same sex relationships with kids in the future. And all these happened BEFORE the law even came into effect! The chilling effect on the society and the enabling effect for bigotry is already tangible now – we can imagine what will happen in the future.
Most absurd of all in this new homophobic turn of the Hungarian government is the fact that the “Christian conservative” constitution adopted by the ruling Fidesz party was written by József Szájer, a Fidesz MEP, who a few months ago had to resign after he was arrested by the Brussels police for attending an illegal gay chemsex party!
This homophobic law is effectively forcing generations of LGBTQ young people into hiding and self-loathing, creating hypocrites like Mr. Szájer, pretending to be someone they have never been.
There are many people in the EU, including politicians, who are now openly questioning whether the EU should keep Eastern European member states in the union. Including Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands. “If this country does not respect the fundamental principles and values of the European Union it hasto leave the club,” they are saying.
And there is some truth in this. But be careful not to fall into the trap of Orban and co!They are also playing with this sentiment from the other side: claiming that we have such different culture and values that we cannot accept the “aggressive liberalism” ofthe West. If Orban is no longer able to get money from the EU he will eventually decide to leave the EU and make Hungary a colony of Russia and China. But Hungary is not Orban.
The Hungarian people need the EU more than ever, and according to the polls, the vast majority of Hungarians want to be EU members. Unlike in Britain, it is unlikely that a referendum in Hungary would result in a Hunxit. Orban knows this – and he wants to create a situation, a conflict, that forces the EU to apply sanctions against Hungary so he can then point the finger at Brusselsand declare “See, I want Hungary be part of the EU but these Brusselites are excluding us!”
Orban is a bully and has to be fought as a bully. But within the EU, not by shutting Hungary out of the EU. I hope the EU institutions and instruments will be strong enough to defend young people in Hungary – from the government.
Executive Director of the Rights Reporter Foundation.
He is a historian, a human rights activist and drug policy expert, the founder and editor of the Drugreporter website since 2004, a documentary film maker and blogger. He has been working for the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) for more than 10 years. Now he leads the Rights Reporter Foundation.