András Léderer, head of advocacy at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee on a recent attack against the LGBTQ community in Hungary.
“Here’s some good news. Uganda’s parliament has passed an anti-LGBTQ law so that pansies who marry will be executed” – a prominent Hungarian pro-government journalist András Bencsik recently made this comment on one of the most watched Hungarian pro-government TV channels.
In Hungary, homophobic propaganda has a long history, how did we get here?
Bencsik’s remarks are the latest in a series of choreographed narrative and legislative attacks against the LGBT community. This began with a threatening statement by the Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the international day against homophobia in 2015, where he spoke about “us, Hungarians” and “them, having a different lifestyle”.
The next seven years saw a war on gender studies, constitutional amendments that bring exclusionist positions into key laws, banning legal gender recognition in practice and same-sex couples’ right to adopt children, mixing paedophilia with belonging to the LGBT community, banning the discussion and portrayal of LGBT content for under 18s, and organising a national referendum on questions such as whether voters support the promotion of gender-reassignment for minors.
What could be the purpose of Bencsik’s statement?
Bencsik is testing how far the rest of the state’s propaganda machine is willing to go in attacking LGBT rights.
What are the consequences of such a statement?
Whether he manages to expand the limits of what is acceptable to say as propaganda partially rests on the public response to such statements. The normalisation of hate can only happen when the rest of society is silent.
Secondly, there are people who are beginning to understand their identity, and where they orientate their affections. It matters greatly if they hear that people like them are worth executing, and that is all they hear.