The forces of modernity and of the past are clashing in Hungary. One clear territory where this is happening is LGBT rights. It is in large part being played out in the blogosphere. This following blog, Western Light, appeared on the independent Hungarian outlet, index.hu and signed by At First Hand. Index.hu has long championed LGBTQ rights in the context of democracy. Sunday’s Budapest Pride will take place in a poisonous atmosphere, but it is a strong signal that while LGBTQ people seem helplessly vulnerable, those who stand for freedom and democracy, for acceptance and equality, are fighting back. This piece presents an overview of the cynicism surrounding gay rights in Hungary these days while drawing important conclusions. Click here for the original version in Hungarian.
Ambassador András Simonyi is the Managing Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. Follow him on twitter here and share your thoughts with #CTRlgbt. Translation provided by the Center for Transatlantic Relations.
Homophobia is for Losers
by At First Hand on the blog Western Light, 7 July 2015
There are only a few things that can make people as angry, bring out the snarling beast in people, as the “gay” issue. Timid little pensioners, hard-working little people become angry, out-of-control, rampaging people as soon as the conversation turns to our gay compatriots.
This “faggot” thing is going on in the pub, around the Sunday lunch table and of course in the comments below articles. After 25 years of efforts to create a “democracy”, we are hardly more tolerant and enlightened a country than we were in 1989, when we started constructing our democracy.
Instead of trying to get acquainted with the issue and instead of acceptance, we hate, we are outraged and we are endlessly repeating popular misconceptions. It’s a pity because we should only just try to understand a few facts in order for all of us to feel a little better in this country.
Contrary to all kinds of rumors, LGBT people do not want to force their own lifestyle onto heterosexuals, they do not want to “spoil” our children, they don’t want to snatch the partners of heterosexuals, they don’t want do any of those “terrible” things that some of our compatriots, who are tirelessly crying “faggot”, are suggesting.
All the gay scene wants is equal rights, an atmosphere without hatred, a fair public narrative and a life without fear. Things, all of which are supposed to be the right of every citizen in any civilized and decent country.
It doesn’t help in the creation of a tolerant public atmosphere when responsible politicians, instead of conveying messages of acceptance, are on the contrary, instigating hatred in society. Like when the Mayor of Budapest calls the [Budapest] Gay Pride disgusting, when the prime minister, upon hearing the topic, is prompted to make jokes about it, or when a certain, [an influential cultural figure] speaks of the “faggot lobby” and when Mr. Zsolt Semjén, the deputy prime minister is talking nonsense about this being an “aberration”.
Of course we know from where the winds are blowing. In a poor, half-peripheral country, where hopelessness, poverty and as a result frustration is the lot of millions, it is so much easier to make the ember of hatred glow in the minds of our compatriots, than to get them to be respectful and accepting. As it is possible to revile gay people without any consequences (as they will not fight back and as usual they will not even respond to [verbal] abuse) it is especially “tasteful” and “courageous” to use them as whipping posts.
The political right is aiming to cater to these low instincts of citizens and with their repeatedly occurring slyly comments. In FIDESz [the ruling party] and in Jobbik, [the extreme right, nationalist party] the prevalent view is that there are just too many homophobes around in order not to take them into account as potential voters and therefore are with full steam aiming at “working them”.
Those who do not have anything else to be proud of than to have been born a Hungarian heterosexual, will become homophobic much more easily. They can instantly feel superior, because of that one thing, for which they do not to have to lift a finger, because it is something they were born with. They do not have to make an effort, they do not have to do well in school and at the workplace, and it is enough just simply say: I am a heterosexual Hungarian, I am better than anyone else who is different from me. This is the kind of pride that does not cost anything, which easily seduces our compatriots, who are otherwise unable to show any serious individual achievement in life.
A person who is well balanced, someone at peace with him or herself and the world, will not find any pleasure in harassing social groups that are more vulnerable than he or she is. There is a great chance that people whose hobby is to call out “faggot” in [blog] comments, usually also have other problems in life. Dark homophobia is for losers.