Homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Hungary

György Bolgár’s Let’s Talk It Over is a liberal talk show with a huge fan club. I myself rarely miss it. Bolgár comes up with topics that he finds interesting or important and usually adds a comment with a question mark at the end. Today I learned that Ferenc Gyurcsány visited Viktor Orbán’s old dormitory, the István Bibó Kollégium, yesterday. Only students of the college could attend the informal talk. Soon enough a recording of the talk was in the hands of Magyar NemzetThe paper made sure that at least one minute of Gyurcsány’s talk was shared with the readers and presented it as a second Balatonőszöd speech.

What was it that, according to Magyar Nemzet, was such a sin that it can only be compared to the speech that effectively ended Gyurcsány’s premiership? The former prime minister told his audience that his views on cultural matters, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and choice of identity are extremely liberal. “Just to shock you, we are the only party that supports the marriage of same-sex couples and their right to adopt children.” He added that the only reason DK didn’t propose a bill to this effect was because “the socialists would have had hiccups” if they did. The conclusion of Magyar Nemzet was that just as Gyurcsány didn’t reveal the whole truth about the state of the economy before the 2006 election he isn’t revealing the whole truth about the opposition’s position today. If they win the election the Unity coalition will introduce an outrageous bill on same-sex marriage and will have the majority to pass it.

György Bolgár tacked on his usual question to this piece of news, asking his audience whether it was a wise move of Gyurcsány to touch on this “delicate” subject in the middle of the election campaign. The current constitution states that “Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman established by voluntary decision, and the family as the basis of the survival of the nation.”

The discussion of the subject even in the relatively moderate right-wing press, for example Heti Válasz, shows such a combination of ignorance, antagonism, and false information that one is inclined to think that bringing up the subject was anything but wise politically. Only yesterday Heti Válasz came out with an article headlined “Two Fidesz EU members voted for the proposal of the gay lobbyists.” One can sense surprise or perhaps even outrage that such a scandalous vote could occur in the EU’s Fidesz caucus. The story is a bit old since it was on February 14 that the proposal was endorsed by a large majority of the European Parliament, but I guess better later than never. In the article, according to the short description of it available on the Internet, the proposal among other things “would make it compulsory to spread the popularity of homosexuality already in kindergartens and the member states would be forced to adopt same-sex marriage.” The article mentions that a most likely homophobic civil group, CitizenGO, was collecting signatures to make sure that the proposal would never be adopted. They failed. The rapporteur of the proposal was Ulrike Lunacek, an Austrian Green EP, who is a lesbian activist. Heti Válasz revealed the names of the two Fidesz renegades who voted for the bill. They turned out to be József Szájer and Lívia Járóka. I’m not surprised. Although Szájer is  married, it seems to be widely known that he is actually gay. And Járóka, who is of Roma origin, might be more sensitive to discrimination than the average Fidesz EP.

If the so-called moderate Fidesz outlet, Heti Válasz, takes the unfounded rumors about the propagation of homosexuality and compulsory introduction of gay marriage in the member states at face value, you can imagine what the other right-wing publications say on the subject. But when you actually look at the “Report on the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity” it is a moderate document designed to have easy passage. It simply opposes discrimination and wants to ensure the equality of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. Heti Válasz‘s reporter obviously didn’t even bother to read the document.

So, Bolgár’s question was justified. Was it wise for Ferenc Gyurcsány to bring the topic up at all? Was he again careless and rash? After all, he is now a member of a team that is supposed to show unity. And one of the problems of “Összefogás” is that voters don’t see the kind of unity its name implies. So, I would say, no, it was not a wise thing to do. Not that I don’t sympathize with his position. I do, but with this statement he is opening himself up for another attack from Magyar Nemzet. One can say that it really doesn’t matter what he says or doesn’t, his opponents shower the most outrageous attacks on him anyway. One could say that politicians don’t always have to cater to public sentiment. But there’s a reason that most politicians try to align themselves with the views of their potential voters.

In the United States where state governments and courts as well as the federal government and the Supreme Court are moving to extend rights to the LGBT community, the majority supports the idea of same-sex marriage (54% in 2013). In Hungary according to the latest poll (2007) it is only 30%. If I had to guess, due to Fidesz and Christian Democratic propaganda that number may be lower by now. For instance, anti-gay propaganda can be heard on M1 (Kossuth Rádió) where a long conversation took place about whether homosexuality is a sin. Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching a campaign aimed at Putin’s anti-gay Russia It was no more than hysterics, the paper claimed. An innocent sporting event became the victim of politics. Heti Válasz was on solid political ground on two fronts. It could support the conservative religious position advocated by the government and, now that Hungary and Russia are such good friends, it could come out squarely on the side of Putin’s discriminatory laws against gays.

In any case, Gyurcsány felt that he had to explain himself more fully and therefore gave a press conference today. He didn’t retreat. He repeated that his party is in favor of same-sex marriage but they are in the minority within Összefogás. Just as they are in the minority on the issues of dual citizenship and Hungary’s current arrangement with the Vatican. He added that, if Összefogás wins, DK will not put in a draft bill on the issue of same-sex marriage because they disapprove of the Fidesz practice of legislation by individual MP’s proposals. The government will prepare draft bills to be discussed in parliament and DK there will be in the minority. On the other hand, he added, if Fidesz wins DK in opposition following their heartfelt conviction will put in a such a proposal.

As for the callers to Bolgár’s program, there was one who disapproved of Gyurcsány’s comments and not just for political reasons. He thought that children who are brought up in same-sex households will become homosexuals themselves. On the other hand, a father phoned in who told his family’s story. They found out when their son was 18 years old that he is gay. He has been living with his partner. A friend of theirs, a woman, was left high and dry by the man who impregnated her. It was his son who was present at the birth and the two of them are something of father substitutes for the little boy. He almost wept, and when Bolgár suggested that gay people are just as good as heterosexuals, he said, “No, they are better.”

72 comments

  1. “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told Father Spadaro. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” (Pope Francis / http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/religion/secrets-of-the-vatican/amid-vatican-disarray-pope-francis-set-a-new-tone/)
    Well, I guess Magyar Nemzet is our Hungarian provocateur. They take things out of context and throw it back. Well, it is time those true religious Hungarians (including Orban) to decide, and take a stance on who’s side are they on? Jobbik, Magyar Nemzet, or the Pope?
    I am glad that Gyurcsany said what he said, and once again he proved that actually he is one of the only Hungarian politician at this time who dares to protect all and every Hungarian, does not matter how popular his choices are. THis is very fresh approach compared to Orban who asked diplomats “You should ignore what I am saying in order to get elected.”

  2. “Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching an anti-gay campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia.”

    Did you mean this, Éva, or is it a typo?

  3. Paul :

    “Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching an anti-gay campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia.”

    Did you mean this, Éva, or is it a typo?

    No, it is not a typo

  4. Eva S. Balogh :

    Paul :
    “Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching an anti-gay campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia.”
    Did you mean this, Éva, or is it a typo?

    No, it is not a typo

    Scratching my head as well. I would think it was meant to be something like: “Heti Valasz severely criticized the US for launching a campaign aimed at Putin’s anti-gay Russia”. I hope …

  5. People in Hungary are not liberal on gay issues. In Budapest, perhaps a bit, but overall not at all. If there is not an outrage on this, it means that people know that it does not really matter because Gyurcsany will not get to power. So, I think the muted responses mean two things: people instinctly feel that this has zero consequences as Fidesz anyway wins and even Fidesz does not want to open the issue because then they may have to explain Szájer and others, ie gays on the right-wing.

  6. You might be a bad translation. In Hungary today, the masses are not ripe for democratic thinking, political affiliation, emotional function (visceral) basis. Gyurcsany one major flaw that thinks everything always has to be said right away, I still fail to understand that the policy should diplomacy at home. Once again attack surface of a given into the hands of the ruling party. since the majority of the population does not tolerate other forms of gender identity. unfortunately

  7. My hunch is that Gyurcsány is positioning himself as the leading voice of the opposition following the April 6th elections and probably believes that his liberal views on gay marriage can’t really do much harm, since the opposition’s chances of winning this election are minimal. I think that he’s looking for a way to construct a clear, distinct political identity for his party. But I wonder how some of his own candidates feel about this issue in particular. Kerék-Bárczy Szabolcs, for instance, is a practicing (and from what I’ve seen) conservative Catholic. Here in Ottawa, I’m the executive director of a Roman Catholic parish and social service agency, which participates each year in the Gay Pride parade, I’m not sure that there are many practicing Catholics in Hungary who would be comfortable with this.

    I’m not sure that Gyurcsány’s views on gay marriage and adoption are really going to scandalize those among the younger generation of Hungarians who are perhaps undecided or who are at least a little open to voting for the democratic opposition.That having been said, I can see some older MSZP-stalwarts and veterans getting upset about this, because – let’s face it – a good chunk of MSZP’s voting base is just as conservative as the average Fidesz voter on many social issues.

  8. Shinobi :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Paul :
    “Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching an anti-gay campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia.”
    Did you mean this, Éva, or is it a typo?

    No, it is not a typo

    Scratching my head as well. I would think it was meant to be something like: “Heti Valasz severely criticized the US for launching a campaign aimed at Putin’s anti-gay Russia”. I hope …

    Or “an anti-homophobia campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia”, indeed. I agree the sentence as it is doesn’t make any sense.

  9. “My hunch is that Gyurcsány is positioning himself as the leading voice of the opposition following the April 6th elections and probably believes that his liberal views on gay marriage can’t really do much harm, since the opposition’s chances of winning this election are minimal.”

    Some commentators in Hungary go even farther than that such as Róbert Puzsér for example ( https://www.facebook.com/Robert.Puzser ). They claim that not only that the “chances of winning are minimal”, but that Gyurcsány’s political future looks much better with an opposition loss than a win.

    In case Unity wins big, Attila Mesterházy becomes Prime Minister of Hungary with the enormous prestige of a victory over Victor Orban. It is impossible that Mesterházy would not be nominated in 2018 and 2022 if he was already successfully Prime Minister between 14-18. In this case Attila Mesterházy is sure to become the nominee by default for 2018 and very likely to become the nominee in 2022, but 2018 would be 100% certain.

    Gyurcsany already said it is possible that “ágaskodik az ambícióm” (this is hard to translate but he has much ambition) regarding 2018 and 2022. See towards the end of this interview

    http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20140115-interju-gyurcsany-ferenccel-a-baloldali-osszefogas-megkotese-utan.html

  10. Christopher Adam :
    said, I can see some older MSZP-stalwarts and veterans getting upset about this, because – let’s face it – a good chunk of MSZP’s voting base is just as conservative as the average Fidesz voter on many social issues.

    This is a realistic view.

    I remember having met during the Kádár period a teacher who was homosexual and who had to be quiet about it. He went to concerts and theater with an older widow in order to create the impression to be heterosexual.
    Interesting how Gyurcsány is attacked because he wants to see Hungary coming into the 21st century. Magyar Nemzet is lagging behind the pope. So I guess Kerék-Bárczy will not be lagging behind the pope. Homosexuality is of course a problem for those forced to live as a celibate.
    But in a liberal democracy everyone is free to live his life as he/she wants provided the laws are respected.

  11. Christopher Adam: spot on.

    MSZP voters are as conservative as voters of Fidesz (of course both groups are a mixed bunch). It is impossible to win a Hungarian election with a consistently liberal stance in Hungary. Hell, even in militantly secular France gay marriage was a huge political issue (and it is not really on agenda in Germany, Austria, Italy either).

    Since Jobbik’s voters (the older ones, not who entered voting age in the last 10-15 years) formerly voted MSZP and these people do not have problems with Jobbik’s stance on social issues, it also means that these people were socially conservatives to begin with.

    But why would not they be? Liberalism, both social and economic, means a rapid erosion of their way of life. They do not like that, in fact they hate it, that is why they support Fidesz and Jobbik which want to protect them from those changes.

    The Left, seemingly, wants to expose them even more. This lefty liberal politics will lead nowhere in rural areas where the elections are now decided. But the left is pretty hopeless, they will never get this. They want so badly to confirm to the EU that in the meantime they totally forget that they should look instead back to their own heartlands to see what people really want.

    You can have all Budapest-based people supporting gay marriage and the EU, and the rule of law, they will still never outvote rural people under this new elections system. I don’t really get Gyurcsany’s stance, but he is a bit of a lose cannon, to put it mildly.

  12. For the uninitiated, Mr. Paul’s Puzsér Róbert is a crazy person. That is his shtick. He is a media personality who says outrageous things and thereby he became popular. He is an “expert” on movies as well as on politics. He was one of the jury members of the Hungarian version of Britain’s Got Talent (reality show). So whatever he says has no more relevance than anybody says here on this blog, probably less.

  13. For the uninformed a few other commentators and political scientist share the same view and I just used Puzsér as an illustration of this viewpoint. Which is kind of similar and follows the same line of thinking as Christopher Adam, but just take it farther. Christopher Adam argued that:

    Gyurcsany “probably believes that his liberal views on gay marriage can’t really do much harm, since the opposition’s chances of winning this election are minimal.”

  14. Mr. Paul,

    when I take my dog out for a walk I generally take two bags–he only goes once, but just in case.
    If I took you out for a walk, I’d have to take 10 bags, at least…

  15. Petofi, just when I think you can’t go any lower you always manage to surprise me.

  16. “So, Bolgár’s question was justified. Was it wise for Ferenc Gyurcsány to bring the topic up at all? Was he again careless and rash? After all, he is now a member of a team that is supposed to show unity. And one of the problems of “Összefogás” is that voters don’t see the kind of unity its name implies. So, I would say, no, it was not a wise thing to do.”

    In a universe where the time horizon does not stretch beyond the next election it is indeed unwise for a politician to challenge widely accepted fallacies. There is never a good time for that, and the electorate will never be any wiser. Maybe Gyurcsány thinks that in stead of trying to win votes by pleasing the electorate it is better to try to talk some sense into the heads of young people.

  17. Once again, we come back to the question of whether the Összefogás makes sense from a strategic perspective (as for tactical; well, we’ll find out soon enough about that, electoral fix or not).

    I think the topic of gay rights is important and it would be a positive contribution to Hungarian political life if, given the opportunity, DK would be prepared to mount an open campaign in favour of gay marriage. This would push the issue out into the open and could be part of a more general movement towards further acceptance and discussion of sexual preferences.

    Yet many of the positive contributions that individual elements of Összefogás could make are being negated, or at least cancelled, by the dominance of a brain-dead party, the MSZP. The MSZP need to take a serious last-minute check on their leader and electoral strategy, before plunging off the cliff. In fact there are now *thousands* of MSZP placards across Budapest of Mesterhazy gesticulating – it’s such a weak image, so poorly and indistinctly differentiated, it really makes me think MSZP DO NOT want to win. There can only be two reasons for this, I think – firstly, that there will be a terrible economic mess after this election. Secondly, that somehow the MSZP is compromised, possibly financially, so that it now perceives its role as that of Loyal Opposition, to preserve the appearance of a choice, of sorts. I’m quite sure that Bajnai, for example, genuinely wants to kick Fidesz out. But I’m not sure this applies to all of the MSZP leadership, many of whom seem comfortable and complacent in opposition.

    So we have a ‘united’ opposition which is really only united in opposition to Orban, but it has yet to generate any outrage or passion in opposition to Fidesz (and – make no mistake – Fidesz has *multiple* vulnerabilities). Meanwhile the colour and depth that individual parties could add is being subsumed. It seems like the worst of both worlds to me right now.

  18. Gyurcsány is one of the very few politicians on the left to really understand Orbán and what has to be done about him, and the only one with the balls to stand up and say it (although possibly because he has nothing to lose).

    He knows, as we do, that the left has no chance in this election (it wouldn’t even have a chance of winning if Orbán hadn’t rigged the election). But elections have to be fought, so he is going through the motions (and I suspect he enjoys his new role, anyway).

    His long-term aim, presumably, is to keep the anti-Orbán fire burning, and, once the election is out of the way, start building a genuine left coalition that one day WILL be able to defeat Orbán (or, more realistically, be ready to take over when the Orbán regime collapses or brings Hungary to its knees).

    I have very little time for Gyurcsány, he is no socialist, and I strongly disagree with his ‘Blairite’ take on politics and the economy. He was a very poor PM, and he was utterly politically naïve to make THAT speech. I’d even go so far as to lay a large part of the blame for the mess we are in now on his shoulders.

    But, he is all we’ve got. And we will desperately need someone to keep the democratic light shining in the coming Orbán darkness. He has nothing to lose, and Orbán can’t touch him, so he is the only one who can stand up to him and tell the truth about what he is doing to Hungary. I never want to see him as a leader of Hungary again, but I am extremely glad that he is still here and is standing up to spearhead the fight to defeat Orbán. He is, currently, our only hope.

    If you doubt that, just imagine going into the election and beyond without him.

  19. Mr. Paul :
    Petofi, just when I think you can’t go any lower you always manage to surprise me.

    You’ve not been reading HS for long then!

  20. whoever, thanks, your comment is sophisticated again.

    That said, I do not think there is a conscious effort on the part of MSZP not to win the elections. That would presuppose in the first place that the Socialist believed that they could actually win the elections, but they rather opt for not winning. No. More likely is that they are indeed brain-dead. At least this is my experience with people associated with them. We should also remember that MSZP absolutely did not act as an opposition before mid-2013. Even since then MSZP is anemic, but before that time, it was as if the party did not exist at all. They literally slept through the last four years and they are doing it now.

    The economy under Fidesz will not fall apart, as Fidesz will simply increase the budget deficit to 4% (also the debt ratio will further increase obviously) and that will be it. The EU at this moment does not care about these figures and is allowing some breach. There will be discussions on how much, which will last for months, and by the end of the year, the situation will present itself. 4-4.5%. OK, so in 2015 we will have to work on some restriction, perhaps not even then. The QE is still going on as it has to, ad infinitum, so foreigners will continue to purchase our debt. Fidesz does not care about the interest rates, until we can roll over the principal payments. As a result Fidesz will have no problem with the economy. Fideszniks will channel about HUF 5,000 bn from the EU during the next four years to their cronies and will entrench their system in a way unimaginable even now.

    The problem is that there is no *decisive* market (constituency) for a clear, liberal, western-oriented party. You could have the clearest message, best of ambitions, people will not be listening to you, because this is not what they want.

    There are perhaps a 1 million-1.5 million people who live almost like an average EU citizen, but of course they are a varied bunch, with lots of self-described conservatives, “anti-communists”, as well as liberals, leftists.

    The rest on the other hand lives in a parallel world. Not only because of Fidesz astonishing media superiority, that counts, but because they have a different way of life. They live, even many youngsters, in a world circa of 1978. They see that for them it is impossible to successfully compete, educate, confirm to the EU/capitalism because they would be losers anyway, so why even try? They are the overwhelming majority who will decide the elections going forward and the last thing they want to hear is more gay stuff. This reminds them of a reality that lefty politicians instead of dealing with important issue like utility prices, jobs, “the nation”, really care about marginal issue like gays, the Jews, roma equality, EU, rule of law. They hate that. People came to this realization slowly, but most are now convinced that they have no chances in this system, so they vote for those who credibly promises to protect them: Fidesz and Jobbik.

    We will see what will happen at the elections, but I do not think that the consequences on the political landscape can be predicted, like what will happen with the left. The unity was at least a decision which they can now test (and which foremost had to do with the election system Orban created). Let’s wait for it.

  21. Shinobi :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Paul :
    “Heti Válasz severely criticized the United States for launching an anti-gay campaign aimed at Putin’s Russia.”
    Did you mean this, Éva, or is it a typo?

    No, it is not a typo

    Scratching my head as well. I would think it was meant to be something like: “Heti Valasz severely criticized the US for launching a campaign aimed at Putin’s anti-gay Russia”. I hope …

    I’m sorry, I must have been too tired. It is fixed.

  22. Paul :

    Mr. Paul :
    Petofi, just when I think you can’t go any lower you always manage to surprise me.

    You’ve not been reading HS for long then!

    Ahh, my two Pauls in unison–how much better can it get?

    I’m sorry that neither of you appreciate my satirical, cynical offerings but rest yourselves in the thought that they provide little, if any, pleasure to myself. They are the necessary offerings
    in light of the sickness of Hungarian society and the inexplicable nature of the people’s stubbornness, or, lack of initiative and intellectual curiosity, to see the light. One would think that people would be caring enough to discover what the truth is and act accordingly; rather than to act out of ancient hatreds and under the direction of Orban and the Catholic Church…

  23. I’m just reading this gem. Csaba Hende, minister of defense, said in Brussels yesterday: “the life of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is the most important measuring rod for Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.” Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine were notable supporters of the deposed government of former President Victor Yanukovych.

  24. Eva S. Balogh :
    I’m just reading this gem. Csaba Hende, minister of defense, said in Brussels yesterday: “the life of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is the most important measuring rod for Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.” Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine were notable supporters of the deposed government of former President Victor Yanukovych.

    If in the past such statements would be mystifying, would they still be today in light of Paks and the influence of Putin on Orban?

  25. How many Hungarians are possessed of the wit to see that what is transpiring in Ukraine
    is a forerunner of what may happen in Hungary in only a few years?

    Thus, the sudden change of the Premier of the Crimea followed by his call to Putin for Russian aid to hold the peace. And so, Sergey Aksyonov:

    “”I am appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring peace and accord on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

    One need only change the part, “Autonomus Republic of Crimea” for “the Autonomous
    Region of Hungary”….and the above appeal will again be serviceable in a few years…

  26. Re the chance/the will of MSZP to win the election I agree totally with whoever and Manu!
    Re the acceptance of LGBT in Hungary I’m not so sure, but I believe at least some people accept it.

    To give some positive examples (even if it’s rather OT):
    I met my wife in 2006 and I always wanted to take her to the USA – and of course she had been dreaming about that all those 45 years under Kadar. So when Hungary became part of the US Visa Waiver Program on 17 Nov 2008, on 18 Nov we embarked the plane to Miami.

    Walking around South Beach we passed a boutique and I saw that my wife liked a tshirt (inscription was something to do with love …) so we went in and I immediately realised that the proprietor who came to serve us was gay. He was very nice, heard us speaking German and wanted to know where we came from, so I did my usual spiel as in the preceding paragraph and he congratulated my wife – telling her that she didn’t look like being 60 years old and so on …

    Back outside (of course we bought that lovely shirt …) we started to talk about him and his gayness and she immediately said that she of course had realised that and that he was very nice – just like all of the few gay people she had met …

    Our next trip took us to New York (where walking through Greenwich Village you meet a lot of LGBT people) and Niagara and then two years later we went to San Franciso where something similar happened. We took the famous antique streetcar to the end of the line and wanted to have a beer/coffee so walked straight into the next bar. I was hesitating, looking for free seats, when someone at the bar turned around and said:

    Sit here, we won’t bite!

    At that moment we realised that only men were in the bar, many couples, some even our age. So we ordered our drinks and again people asked where we came from and the couple sitting beside us told us: Of course we know Germany, been to Düsseldorf and Frankfurt on business often, and we like German beer and …
    And again evreybody congratulated my wife on having the chance now to see the world after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    So we had an interesting conversation and in the end my wife got two kisses and best wishes for the rest of our holiday.

    We had never before talked about LGBT matters so I was really happy that my wife had no problems there at all and I’d say that the young ones in her family also accept this

  27. John McCain is on the roll. He is still on the case of the unqualified American ambassadors, among them Colleen Bell who is heading to Hungary. He wrote an op/ed piece for the Wall Sreet Journal on the subject. The title Abysmal Ambassadorial Nominations.

    http://tinyurl.com/kubpa39

  28. The Kim Lane Scheppele articles linked at the top of the comments are superb. I’m now bombarding my acquaintances with them and suggest that everyone does likewise.

  29. McCain is spot on and it is a pleasure to those of us who get frustrated at the tribal nature of Hungarian political discourse, to be able to agree with someone whose politics I don’t generally support

  30. Seconded about the Scheppele articles at the beginning of the comments. It is scary to read – in one place – exactly how Fidesz has stolen the country. They should be read by as many people as possible.

    OT: Opposition adverts have began popping up around Budapest. They are composed of A3 paper and are stapled to temporary chipboard ‘fences’ around lamp posts, at ground level. Needless to say, they can be ripped off very easily, and many already have been.

  31. petofi :

    Paul :

    Mr. Paul :
    Petofi, just when I think you can’t go any lower you always manage to surprise me.

    You’ve not been reading HS for long then!

    Ahh, my two Pauls in unison–how much better can it get?
    I’m sorry that neither of you appreciate my satirical, cynical offerings but rest yourselves in the thought that they provide little, if any, pleasure to myself. They are the necessary offerings
    in light of the sickness of Hungarian society and the inexplicable nature of the people’s stubbornness, or, lack of initiative and intellectual curiosity, to see the light. One would think that people would be caring enough to discover what the truth is and act accordingly; rather than to act out of ancient hatreds and under the direction of Orban and the Catholic Church…

    It was in jest, Petofi. I enjoy your posts – even when I don’t understand them!

    But please don’t group me with ‘Mr Paul’ – my name is actually Paul, I very much doubt if his is!

  32. I think it is wonderful that Gyurcsany says it as it is. I believe he is honest about how he feels about the LGBT community, and I hope if he has a chance will implement his suggested changes. I believe that many Fidesz politicians feel the same but would never have the guts to put what is right ahead of the political ambition.

  33. I would think that Gyurcsány’s feelings about the LGBT community are probably genuine. I also believe that deep down, even people like Orbán, Rogán, Pokorni, Deutsch, maybe Navracsics and some other key players on the non-KDNP side of Fidesz, feel similarly, but politically they are simply giving the Hungarian public what they believe that public wants to hear. And I’d say that they are doing the same on many, many other issues as well. I find it hard to believe that when you pull away the mask of party politics, someone like Rogán is more socially conservative than rural, or small town socialists.

    While I’m not sure that this was politically and strategically the best time to insert this issue into the campaign, Gyurcsány seems to be the only one in Összefogás to bring a bit of substance to the opposition. Bajnai looks like he doesn’t really want to be there on most days, while Mesterházy has this sense of impending doom about him, since he knows that Gyurcsány will be gunning for him (and Bajnai) shortly after around 11:00pm, on April 6th. And as for Fodor Gábor…I’m not even sure why he is there in the first place, but since we don’t see or hear too much from him, perhaps it doesn’t matter a great deal.

    This election team feels a bit like when MSZP was going into the 2010 election knowing full well that they will suffer a stunning defeat. The main difference, however, is that the left has since fallen apart and has tried to mask this reality with the ragtag Összefogás, which still has virtually no coherent platform, beyond wanting to boot Orbán from power. Gyurcsány occasionally tries to insert some policy proposals, but his own credibility as also been shot. And when DK tries to reinvent or reinterpret his speech/rant at Őszöd by portraying it as their “credo” and as a type of masterpiece, they’re not doing themselves any favours.

  34. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that negative attitudes to homosexuality is a right wing Fidesz prejudice. From my own (heterosexual) observation, I found that even my most liberal SZDSZ voting friends were just as hopelessly anti-gay as those with less West European perspectives. I don’t believe for a second that 30% of the population in Hungary has ever supported gay marriage. Perhaps 30% wouldn’t have had them hung drawn and quartered but that is about as far as it goes. To be positive, the one segment of the population who are in any way tolerant and supportive are women, particularly those that have traveled.

    Hungary is a very male dominated, macho society. The next parliament will probably have fewer then 10 female MPs. And Hungarian men have huge problems trying to come to terms with their own masculine expectations. And so it is perhaps not surprising that they have so little tolerance for those who simply don’t fall into their unrealistic understanding of how the sexes behave. And another reason why so few Hungarian men find foreign wives and why so many Hungarian women are only too happy to marry foreign men!

    Another part of the prejudice is simply unfamiliarity. I’ve witnessed a remarkable transformation in the UK that has come largely from people actually meeting open gays and realising they don’t have two heads. A guy who runs the local shop whose politics are borderline UKIP/BNP amazed me the other day when he told me about the gay couples that he and his wife have had round for dinner – his prejudices dissolved having met such couples. And one would hope that ultimately, this will happen in Hungary too. But reading the Heti Válasz piece quoted by Éva, one fears it may take some time.

  35. On LGBT issues: Hungary was the first country in Europe whose high court required equal legal treatment for gay and straight couples in civil unions. The Constitutional Court made that decision in 1995 based on a petition submitted by the very closeted gay rights group Melegek, whose lawyer at the time was none other than Krisztina Morvai. How times have changed.

  36. Paul :

    petofi :

    Paul :

    Mr. Paul :
    Petofi, just when I think you can’t go any lower you always manage to surprise me.

    You’ve not been reading HS for long then!

    Ahh, my two Pauls in unison–how much better can it get?
    I’m sorry that neither of you appreciate my satirical, cynical offerings but rest yourselves in the thought that they provide little, if any, pleasure to myself. They are the necessary offerings
    in light of the sickness of Hungarian society and the inexplicable nature of the people’s stubbornness, or, lack of initiative and intellectual curiosity, to see the light. One would think that people would be caring enough to discover what the truth is and act accordingly; rather than to act out of ancient hatreds and under the direction of Orban and the Catholic Church…

    It was in jest, Petofi. I enjoy your posts – even when I don’t understand them!
    But please don’t group me with ‘Mr Paul’ – my name is actually Paul, I very much doubt if his is!

    Nice to hear of your support, Paul.
    I was only temporarily confused between the two of you: in time, if I would come to think of it seriously, I would certainly would have differentiated your from our very own ‘bull in a china shop’ character. As for the issue of barring him…I disagree (largely) though I would like to see him limited to, say, 3 offerings per topic.

  37. @ Paul

    Someone–I don’t think it was you–accused me of being racist, which of course, I’m not.

    This reminds me of an issue some 20 years ago back in Toronto when one of the papers happened to mention that the Jane/Finch area was a hotbed of Jamaican drug-trafficking.
    Of course, the contention was true, but you should’ve seen (and read) the wailing and admonish from Toronto blacks about incipient racism in the newspaper. And, believe it or not, thereafter
    the newspapers could no longer designate a criminal by the term, “Jamaican” or any other ethnicity either.

    Ridiculous.

  38. Kim Lane Scheppele :
    On LGBT issues: Hungary was the first country in Europe whose high court required equal legal treatment for gay and straight couples in civil unions. The Constitutional Court made that decision in 1995 based on a petition submitted by the very closeted gay rights group Melegek, whose lawyer at the time was none other than Krisztina Morvai. How times have changed.

    woww! Thanks for this. I had no idea about this. So that was under the MSZP, and just around the time Fidesz started its peacock dance adding “Hungarian Civic Party” to their name, and becoming conservative from liberal. I wonder how many of the current fans of Fidesz of this blog supported Fidesz prior to 1995. If they did support Fidesz, are they peacock dancers too? If they did not support Fidesz, what can the explain their fondness of Viktor the once liberal, etc.?

    As I said above, I do think that many Fidesz members do support the LGBT community, and I thank Adam for reinforcing my believe with your point of view.
    I do not hunk that most people care in one way or another, but the blood libel Magyar Nemzet tries to make out of this issue is very sad. They would sell everything to win.

  39. Kim Lane Scheppele :

    On LGBT issues: Hungary was the first country in Europe whose high court required equal legal treatment for gay and straight couples in civil unions. The Constitutional Court made that decision in 1995 based on a petition submitted by the very closeted gay rights group Melegek, whose lawyer at the time was none other than Krisztina Morvai. How times have changed.

    The same Krisztina Morvai was one of the two Hungarians from Hungary proper to who voted against the Lunacek report. The other was László Surján, Antall’s minister of health.

  40. The very least one can say about Gyurcsany is that, unlike his opponents, we don’t have to endlessly speculate about what he REALLY thinks about the moral issues of the day. Whether or not his views are vote-winning or not, this is courageous.

    Meanwhile, just out of interest, I wonder of anyone knows what would happen if a married same-sex couple (possibly with children, their own or adopted) moved to Hungary as primary residence, as is their legal EU free-movement right? Would they be immediately and forcibly divorced? Would the state annul all their legal and financial affairs? What would they sign in the ‘marital status’ box in the bureaucratic mountains? Would their children be immediately and forcibly removed from them by Hungarian Child Protection? Just wondering … It’s surely a situation that has happened, or will happen. Would all the rhetoric be conveniently ignored? Or would we have an extremely interesting clash and precedent case?

  41. Eva S. Balogh :
    I’m just reading this gem. Csaba Hende, minister of defense, said in Brussels yesterday: “the life of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is the most important measuring rod for Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.” Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine were notable supporters of the deposed government of former President Victor Yanukovych.

    I thin kit is time for the opposition to bring out the old posters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tessek_valasztani.jpg
    The sign reads “You must choose”. The word “valasztani” has two meanings in Hungarian, it could mean “choose”, and it can also mean “vote”. Also note that the poster is from 1990, when the mandatory top age limit for Fidesz members was 35 years of age. Orban was 28 years old at the time. The age restrictions was abolished in 1993.
    peacock dance

  42. Some1 :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    I’m just reading this gem. Csaba Hende, minister of defense, said in Brussels yesterday: “the life of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is the most important measuring rod for Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.” Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine were notable supporters of the deposed government of former President Victor Yanukovych.

    I thin kit is time for the opposition to bring out the old posters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tessek_valasztani.jpg
    The sign reads “You must choose”. The word “valasztani” has two meanings in Hungarian, it could mean “choose”, and it can also mean “vote”. Also note that the poster is from 1990, when the mandatory top age limit for Fidesz members was 35 years of age. Orban was 28 years old at the time. The age restrictions was abolished in 1993.
    peacock dance

    Looking at Bekement pics, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone under 50.

  43. petofi :
    How many Hungarians are possessed of the wit to see that what is transpiring in Ukraine
    is a forerunner of what may happen in Hungary in only a few years?
    Thus, the sudden change of the Premier of the Crimea followed by his call to Putin for Russian aid to hold the peace. And so, Sergey Aksyonov:
    “”I am appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring peace and accord on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”
    One need only change the part, “Autonomus Republic of Crimea” for “the Autonomous
    Region of Hungary”….and the above appeal will again be serviceable in a few years…

    You mean to say, there is SOMETHING, ANYTHING left in Hungary that the Russians might want? Didn’t they manage to strip most valuable resources when they had the chance? The only thing left is water. The Russians have water.

  44. petofi :

    Looking at Bekement pics, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone under 50.

    That’s why many people think, myself included, that Fidesz hired young people to fill the stadium where Orbán gave his last “state of the nation” speech a couple of weeks ago. This would have been the first time. Think of March 15 2012 when students were paid to stand behind him.

  45. Some1 :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    I’m just reading this gem. Csaba Hende, minister of defense, said in Brussels yesterday: “the life of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is the most important measuring rod for Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.” Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine were notable supporters of the deposed government of former President Victor Yanukovych.

    I thin kit is time for the opposition to bring out the old posters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tessek_valasztani.jpg
    The sign reads “You must choose”. The word “valasztani” has two meanings in Hungarian, it could mean “choose”, and it can also mean “vote”. Also note that the poster is from 1990, when the mandatory top age limit for Fidesz members was 35 years of age. Orban was 28 years old at the time. The age restrictions was abolished in 1993.
    peacock dance

    I suspect the time (or even the slightest opportunity) for the opposition to start bringing out new posters which have any kind of visibility is long gone. And Orban will have already prepared his victory speech at Kossuth Ter (or will it be Nemzeti Ter), which is almost finished by the way. It’s the busiest construction site I’ve ever seen in this country.

    I am very very curious to see whether there will be any form of mass protest after the elections (vis-a-vis the Orange Revolution).

  46. gabriella kadar :

    You mean to say, there is SOMETHING, ANYTHING left in Hungary that the Russians might want? Didn’t they manage to strip most valuable resources when they had the chance? The only thing left is water. The Russians have water.

    This is a bit more complicated story. After the war Hungary had to pay reparations to the Soviet Union and during the first few years the Soviets took as much as they could lay their hands on. But in later years, Hungary along with the other satellite countries actually cost money for the Soviets because of cheap gas and oil without which the Eastern European countries would have collapsed financially.

    Putin by having this agreement concerning Paks secured a very substantial business deal for Rosatom, a state company. Hungary will pay for Paks three or four times over in the next few decades.

  47. Bowen :
    I am very very curious to see whether there will be any form of mass protest after the elections (vis-a-vis the Orange Revolution).

    Unless the opposition win a huge amounts of votes, I can’t see what grounds there could be for mass protests. And as things stand, it looks like Fidesz is going to win the votes. That will be bitterly disappointing but provides no justification for mass protests.

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