(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)
During the last half century. Hungary has undergone a significant change regarding its approach to gender-related issues and the presence of LGTBQ+ communities in the country from quite liberal attitudes in the 70s to the complete opposite position today.
As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we took the occasion to talk to Bálint Josá, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action. Read on here to hear his thoughts on his government’s approach to gender.
“The government is clearly violating human rights related to the LGBTQI issue. Formally, it was declared by many governmental or high-ranking persons that they are not friends of the LGTBQ+ community and the Ministry of Interior even stopped handing out permission of gender change and name changes” – argues Balint Josá.
Mr. Josá stresses that there is no time limit for the Ministry of Interior to process applications for gender change so instead of declining such applications, the officials have simply stopped saying yes or no. This leaves applicants in a limbo with no applications accepted during the last years.
Also the current COVID-19 situation has far from helped on this issue. According to Mr. Josá the pandemic-enforced state of emergency has allowed the government to freely carry out changes in the country’s regulations resulting in a legal ban on gender change. Moreover, these changes have been implemented into the country’s constitution:
“In [Hungary’s] constitution it is said that the mother is a woman, the father is a man and the unity of them fruited by a child is the definition of a family. So we have a constitution that is literally homophobic in terms of binary or alternatives to parenting”.
In continuation, the Hungarian law has adopted a special clause prohibiting anyone from visiting and talking about any alter-versions of gender in schools where children and youth are present. This includes not only transgender but also bi- and homosexuality. The law also entails a strong censorship prohibiting under-aged from watching any series, reading books or enjoying other pieces of cultural that – according to the decision-makers – do not comprise a ‘proper educational narrative’:
“It means that for example Netflix is now limited in Hungary by not allowing anything other than heterosexual relations to people under 18. There was also a storybook with 12 fairytales and three of them had alter-gender endings so the government banned these books from being within the limit of 200 meters from schools and churches. Also, any other so-called ‘gay propaganda’ was limited so not only about claiming that homosexuals are better but solely the portrayal of homosexuals in general”.
According to Mr. Josá, this type of ‘cancellation-policy’ is clearly homophobic and an ongoing debate in Hungary, which has also received international legal attention and criticism within the EU.
UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society.
Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/