A week of events organized by the Budapest Pride began last night

After the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling, many well-known personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook and Hillary Clinton on Twitter, displayed the rainbow flag to show their delight with the decision. This is how the resident of the White House showed his support for the American gay community.

white house

And in Hungary? Only about a month before the historic Supreme Court decision, Viktor Orbán announced that “Hungary is a tolerant nation” but that “tolerance … does not mean that we would apply the same rules for people whose life style is different from our own.” He expressed his gratitude to the Hungarian homosexual community “for not exhibiting the provocative behavior against which numerous European nations are struggling.” What exists now is “a peaceful, calm equilibrium” which should be maintained because otherwise anti-gay feelings will flare up.

The message was obvious: don’t rock the boat because there might be adverse consequences. Magyar Narancs summarized Orbán’s message well: “A Hungarian doesn’t harass anyone, unless he is forced to harass him in a tolerant manner with mercy in his heart.” In fact, Hungarian gays and lesbians suffer discrimination and harassment even without any “provocative behavior.”

So, let’s see how Fidesz politicians reacted to the news of the Supreme Court decision. The occasion was ignored by everyone except Máté Kocsis, mayor of District VIII of Budapest, and Zoltán Kovács, government spokesman. These two decided to cover their pictures on Facebook with the colors of the Hungarian flag.

kocsis-kovacs

What  kind of a message did these two want to convey? That a real Hungarian cannot be gay? Or, to flip the sentence and the emphasis, that gays cannot be truly Hungarian? Or, if I were feeling charitable, I might say that these two are just a bit confused. I doubt, however, that Kocsis is confused. Lately, he has been far too eager to prove to the world that talk of his alleged homosexuality is unfounded. As a result, he has sunk to the level of disgusting homophobia.

The only refreshing exception was the wife of Antal Rogán, the leader of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation, who decided to follow the example of many foreign celebrities and use the colors of the rainbow over her portrait on Facebook. The president of the Rainbow Mission Foundation immediately wrote her a letter and expressed the homosexual community’s appreciation of the gesture. She also extended an invitation to her and her husband, “if his schedule permits,” to the opening of the Budapest Pride Festival which took place yesterday. As far as I know, they didn’t attend.

We shouldn’t be surprised that homophobic skinheads and football hooligans take pleasure in taunting the mixed crowd of gays and their straight supporters at the annual parade along Andrássy Street when the mayor of Budapest, István Tarlós, doesn’t hide his antagonism toward the gay community. Only yesterday I wondered whether Viktor Orbán is really unaware of the fact that in better circles his racism and xenophobia are considered unacceptable and his behavior unbecoming, boorish, or much worse. In the case of István Tarlós there is no question: he is not at all ashamed that he is a homophobic boor. In fact, he advertises it. And yes, he is a boor.

On June 4 Tarlós was the guest on an early morning TV2 program called Mokka. Earlier Napi Gazdaság had reported that there was a possibility that the Budapest city council would move the Pride Parade from Andrássy Street to Budapesti Nagybani Piac, a wholesale marketplace almost 15 km away from Andrássy Street. So, the reporter wanted to know more about this alleged plan to move the Pride Parade to the outskirts of the city. Tarlós was happy to share his thoughts on the subject. Yes, he would like to move the parade somewhere else because “it is unworthy of the historic district of Andrássy Street.” In addition, he shared his “private opinion” that he finds the idea “unnatural” and gays “repulsive.” The brave reporter said not a word.

It seems that Tarlós is not familiar with the limits of the city council’s authority. Determining a demonstration’s location is not its job. Moreover, as TASZ, the Hungarian equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union, argued, a public official cannot state his “private opinion” when he appears on TV. He is the representative of the city council, and he represents every inhabitant of the city of Budapest. His public statements must be in accord with the constitution. TASZ pointed out that at the moment Tarlós cannot be held legally responsible because in the civil code “sexual orientation” is not among the qualities protected by law, like ethnic groups or people of religious communities. But perhaps, they added, such a provision should be added, especially since in Hungary there is never any political consequence of such inappropriate statements and actions.

The organizers of the Budapest Pride were outraged at the mayor’s words, and a few days later they answered the mayor by wrapping the tree trunks along Andrássy Street in rainbow colors.

szivarvany Andrassy ut

The cleaning crew most likely appeared on the scene as soon as Tarlós heard of the attempt to desecrate Andrássy Street, which in his opinion is so important to the history of the city that “repulsive” gays should not step on its pavement.

The gay community doesn’t have any backing from government circles, but twenty-five foreign embassies announced their support of Budapest Pride. I guess no one will be surprised to learn that, with the exception of Slovenia, no former socialist country is among the sponsors. I understand that several companies also offered financial help for the close to 100 cultural events planned for the next seven days. I suspect that most of them, if not all, are multinational companies.

Last night’s opening was a huge success. The very talented theater director Róbert Alföldi was the keynote speaker. A video of the event is available on YouTube:

I haven’t had time yet to watch the whole one-and-a-half hours of it, but I listened to part of a very amusing, witty speech by Zoltán Lakner, a professor of political science, whom I consider one of the keenest observers of the Hungarian political scene.

I understand that  a number of politicians from the democratic opposition were present: Gábor Fodor, Magyar Liberális Párt; Bernadett Szél, co-chair of LMP; Ágnes Kunhalmi and István Ujhelyi from MSZP; and Péter Juhász, vice-chairman of Együtt. Several foreign embassies were also represented.

I fear that next Saturday the gay community and their supporters will once again be harassed by Jobbik and Fidesz supporters. Should we be surprised when Fidesz politicians egg them on?

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Guest

“tolerance … does not mean that we would apply the same rules for people whose life style is different from our own.”

I suppose what Orbán is referring to is his own “lifestyle” which includes domestic abuse, such as pracitsed by himself on his wife who turns up repeatedly at hospitals to be treated for the bruises she receives at hubby’s “tolerant” hands?

exTor
Guest

Almost nobody here likes Viktor Orbán, however we can not spread what appear to be untruths about him. I checked online and I cant find anything about any so-called ‘domestic abuse’ perpetrated on Anikó Lévai by Viktor Orbán. Where are these ‘stories’, magyar2lips?

Either back up your very serious allegation of Viktor Orbán ‘domestic abuse’ of his wife Anikó Lévai or retract that damning (and perhaps libelous) allegation.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

I read about the White House being lighted in rainbow colours here – was very delighted by Obama’s move:
http://m.snopes.com/rainbow-white-house/
On the other hand: Don’t read the comments there if your sensitive to uglyness! Luckily the crazies are in aminority in the USA.

A bit OT:

Andre Goodfriend posted on his facebook site an interesting comment re his activities:
” I’ll be here in DC for this coming year working towards promoting increased openness, transparency and the ability to collaborate more effectively with each other and externally with civil society and others.”

Jon Van Til
Guest

In my more than half-century of visits to Hungary, I have never been more proud of my country than I was during the period of creative and effective service rendered by Andre Goodfriend. I am therefore delighted to learn of his new assignment in Washington. Expressing the best of American values through a variety of communication forms and media is vital for diplomats of all sorts, whether employed by embassies or just visiting as citizens.

MusicLover
Guest
magyar2lips, there is no evidence Orbán beats his wife. It is an urban myth. I well recall someone ringing me up on the second round of elections in 2002 to announce that Orbán had put his wife in hospital but this proved to be totally untrue. However much we despise Orbán, I don’t think that gives us the right to spread unfounded and unpleasant rumours. I also believe we have to be a bit more understanding why Hungarians have problems comprehending gay issues. Turn the clock back four decades and people in the UK were no more informed or tolerant. Attitudes have changed enormously since then, but it took decades, it also took a huge amount of education, through public discourse but also through positive characters in soap operas and dramas. It also required further evaporation of religion (which for the record, I’m delighted about!) But above all, it has become accepted because people have met openly gay couples and people and realised that they don’t have to two heads. Hungary needs about another two decades before attitudes are the same as ours, and we should remember that we were no better forty years ago. These things take time and… Read more »
exTor
Guest

Well-stated, MusicLover. Notwithstanding the evident reactionariness of Hungarian culture (which is not as monolithic as I may make it out to be) it should not take as long for Magyars to catch up to where the West is now. Time will compress. That said, there are still many in the West who do not accept the US Supreme Court decision re gay marriage. There will also be resistance in Hungary and Viktor Orbán, his fellow Fideszniks and those neanderthals further out will attempt to motivate against social progress.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

MusicLover is right!
“we should remember that we were no better forty years ago”

Often in Hungary I have that feeling that it’s like a Germany of 40 or 50 years ago.
It’s like a time travel paradox – many things/ideas/behaviours of course are as modern as in the USA or other parts of Europe (like when I talk to our young ones which just finished university few years ago) but when I talk to older Hungarians and see their attitudes it often feels like Kádár times again – or even Germany in the 60s when I was a student.

A bit OT:
This kind of disparity gets more pronounced even when you look at other countries like India etc where my grand daughter just spent half a year …
A society based on values of the 19th Century with technology from the 21st – bizarre in a way (at least for us)!

sunyilo12
Guest

Wolfi,
Speaking of Germany: who could forget, if one saw, Peter Fleischmann’s movie of Jagdszenen in Niederbayern made in the 60s?

Guest

Yes, I saw that as a student – and also “Wilder Reiter” and then all the films by Rainer W Fassbinder …

A bit OT:

As a member of the Humanistische Union in the 60s I helped organise showings of some films that were not shown in cinemas and we also distributed a leaflet at the university explaining the different anticonception methods.
The money we needed was earned by organising rock concerts and selling buttons:
Make love not war and similar slogans – those were the absolute hit with my fellow students!
Oh, those were the days …

Albrecht Neumerker
Guest

I honestly envy you. I was in my teens in the 70’s.

Guest

Thank you, Albrecht!
On the other hand those days had their problems – just a few examples:
In 60s’ Germany we still had laws against homosexuality (a student friend of mine was gay – and very afraid), against abortion, contraception methods were almost non-existent/unknown, there was a law against “Kuppelei” which meant that a student could not let his/her friend of the opposite sex stay over night – the landlord might have to go to jail …
Also adultery was punishable by a prison sentence and last not least the old Nazi law against sterilisation was still valid.
We students in the Humanistische Union invited a doctor who had sterilised older women who together with their husbands came to him and said they had enough children but still wanted to enjoy sex – the police had raided his files, the prosecution wanted him in jail (based on that Nazi law) and there was a long running trial until the Social Democrats (Willy Brandt) came to power and changed all those laws!
Only after the students’ revolutions in 1968 did all those things change – until then West Germany under the conservative/reactionary Christian Democrats was almost as bad as Orbán’s regime today …

exTor
Guest

Perhaps those two Fideszniks (Maté Kocsis and Zoltán Kovács) were slyly endorsing Gay Pride by rainbowing themselves, but with fewer colors: the red, white and green of the Magyar flag?

I noticed the colors used by Kovács are paler than those used by Kocsis. Does that evince a paler (lesser) closet for Kovács than for Kocsis? … (–: …

Moving on to the height of ridiculousness, Viktor Orbán’s stature (as in the distance from the ground to the top of his head, not the (lack of) esteem with which he is held internationally) is often commented on. Just how short is Viktor Orbán?

MAGYARKOZÓ

MusicLover
Guest

@exTor, I’ve seen Orbán in the flesh plenty of times and once had the misfortune to sit next to him in a concert hall (for the first half only!) and he is not particularly small. I’d guess about five foot eight.

exTor
Guest

Five-foot-eight? That makes Viktor Orbán about 173 centimeters. I’ve had girlfriends taller than that, MusicLover. I suppose by Magyar-male standards 5’8 isn’t too bad, since Hungarians are a short people. That NWS, most pictures that I see of Magyar politicos seem to suggest that they are not that short, however height perspective is difficult to ascertain.

So, Viktor Orbán is the nation’s big short man. Or should that be Viktor Orbán is Hungary’s short big man?

MAGYARKOZÓ

exTor
Guest

The list of respective heights of various world leaders is interesting. Because the heights are listed according to the country of origin, Viktor Orbán followed Adolf Hitler, which cracked me up. Not only are the two side-by-each (a saying from Newfoundland) they are the same height.

There is something just perfect about this.

As for Viktor Orbán being not even 174 centimeters, that could be a distinct possibility, if he wears elevator shoes as has been suggested. Not sure where the Guardian might have gotten all those figures, especially of people like Napoleon. Some are estimates.

Anybody who follows sports knows that teams often pad the figures of their players, both in terms of height and weight. This is especially true of North American football. Perhaps Fidesz pumped up its head honcho.

Speaking of Nappy, maybe it could be stated that Viktor Orbán has a Napoleon complex.

MAGYARKOZÓ

w36
Guest

Very enlightened blog entry to the unenlightened public today.

Other topic:

The Holy Question is today why we can detect a similarity between the hollow confusing anti-EU slogans from Budapest and Athens.

Are these two regimes supported and governed by one and the same master?

Guest
Re: ‘I also believe we have to be a bit more understanding why Hungarians have problems comprehending gay issues. Turn the clock back four decades and people in the UK were no more informed or tolerant. Attitudes have changed enormously since then, but it took decades, it also took a huge amount of education, through public discourse but also through positive characters in soap operas and dramas. It also required further evaporation of religion (which for the record, I’m delighted about!) But above all, it has become accepted….These things take time and Hungary has not had the same time that we have had. You know I agree in the main with your view on Hungarian attitudes. Though it appears to me Hungary appears to have much ambivalence not only with gay rights but democratic ‘rights’ in general. It is fascinating to see the country’s descent into the human rights maelstrom. She appears to be going backward rather than forward if we assume she had those ideas at one time and seems to be reneging on pushing the throttle on the continuing development of rights. And as to the comment on the ‘evaporation’ of religion. I do see how societies have… Read more »
exTor
Guest
Sober writing in your response to MusicLover, Rikard. Whether Hungary is “going backward rather than forward” is conjecturable. It can be argued that a certain statusquo [eg: pervasive societal racism] is being adroitly manipulated by the Fidesz government, however there are in this society farther-sighted elements endeavoring to move Hungary in a positive direction. For sure there is catchup (re Western norms) to be done, however it wont take decades, as was the case in the West. I’ve had expressed to me that the lack of religiosity in Hungary is a result of the previous ‘system’, however I dont buy it. People could be believers back then if they wanted to be, the official government position on the Church notwithstanding. People kept their religious beliefs to themselves if they were worried about the awareness of others. Religious belief is on the wane, not just here in Hungary, but next door too, in similar countries, eg: Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, etcetera. In your second-last paragraph you seem to say that people have transformed their personal beliefs, sometimes modeling them on the paradigms of the established religions, sometimes moving away from a God belief to something more secular, something that could be termed… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Your final paragraph contains a contradiction. The religious can not “lose their ‘religions’”. One is connected to the other. God belief should not ever be proscribed, nor should most beliefs be proscribed’

You know if religion is proscribed or eradicated then I would suggest that is precisely how the religious can lose their ‘religions’. Consequently they will be marginalized and more than not denounced in their beliefs.

The interesting thing I find in Magyarorszag is that the government adheres to the ‘Christian’ aspect of the state. In my opinion though the country may be that in name but not on principles. The country appears to have married political ideology with religiosity. A dangerous combination.

And I’d be curious is it necessary that religions disappear or be eradicated? You know I kind of find that both religion and democracy have become how can we say ‘unfashionable’ now. Are they related? I don’t know but it’s fascinating to see how our world turns and wends its way through time and historical eras. I smell something in the air. Does anybody else? I’m not the only one with a nose…..;-)…

RealityCheck
Guest

The first media reported threat against Pride Week. LGBT effigy hung from post in Varosliget.

http://index.hu/belfold/2015/07/05/akasztott_szivarvanyos_babu/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=index

RealityCheck
Guest

Reminds me of this guys I photographed at the 2011 Pride Parade. The sign reads “New punishment for gays”.

They are members of the 64 Counties Youth Movement. A known hate group who are staging an anti-immigrant demonstration at Keleti on the 10th. 1000 have already registered.

RealityCheck
Guest

Eva, sorry the picture download failed. Can you either delete the comment or edit to remove the file path. A little too much info regarding my identity. Or perhaps the pic is awaiting your OK, and in that case erase this comment. Thanks!

sunyilo12
Guest

On another turn of events, after posting homophobic remarks on his Facebook page, a DK representative from Baranya, Laszlo Suto is going to face expulsion from his party per the initiative of Ferenc Gyurcsany (http://444.hu/2015/07/05/gyurcsany-kirugatja-a-buzizo-dk-s-kepviselot/). What is fascinating in reading the comments on this piece of news (and on many others around this topic), is Hungarians’ lack of appreciating issues in their daily practicality. I have never seen in any of these comment threads coming up that people seeking same-sex relationships are de facto discriminated against by the law of the country: from the perspectives of taxation, inheritance, adoption laws, employment, etc. While in the US and other Western countries this is perhaps the main driver of gay right movements, aside from the gays no one seems to give a damn about the issues in Hungary.

CarlosD
Guest

Very proud of those gay and gay friendly Hungarians who are taking a genuinely courageous stand by participating in Budapest’s gay pride events. I hope that they take some hope from the decision by the US Supreme Court. Nobody should underestimate the difficulties that gays face in countries like Hungary. If anyone knows of a concrete way to support them I’d love to hear it.

Member

Bellwether of Bigotry
The way I realized the importance and significance of the issue of LBGT rights (which I had simply taken for granted previously, as being as obvious as that the earth is round, “creationism” is false and all human beings are equal) was by seing who opposed LBGT rights: They were invariably the very same people and parties who opposed everything else that I felt to be true, just and decent. Hungary seems to be rife with them.

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