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LGBT+ Hungarians are fleeing the country in droves as homophobe Viktor Orbán makes them enemies of the state

Josh Milton December 16, 2020
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EU may sanction Hungary for law banning 'promotion' of LGBT rights

The prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán has launched salvos after salvos against the LGBT+ community. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Countless LGBT+ people in Hungary with the means to do so are making the difficult call to emigrate – leaving behind their homes, friends and livelihoods – so they can have “dream of having a better future”.

Facing inflamed levels of hostility amid a crackdown of queer rights at the hand of the right-wing government of Viktor Orbán, the populist, autocratic leader of the Fidesz party, LGBT+ people are fleeing. Fast.

“It motivates me to leave, that I may not be able to have the life with my partner that we dream about, to maybe have family in the future,” Barbara Pongracz, a 31-year-old recruitment consultant, told AFP.

“I am just fed up with this negative environment.”

‘The LGBT+ community has become a scapegoat’ in Hungary, say queer locals.

LGBT+ citizens described a culture of fear entrenched in Hungary. Verbal threats are quickly curdling into violence, while their mental health sharply nosedives as it seems more of their rights are being stripped each month.

Only this week did the government pass a raft of laws curtailing the rights of queer Hungarians – crushing crucial civil liberties in same-sex adoption – all the while further consolidating and fortifying the party’s place at the top.

A woman with a flower crown peeps over a rainbow-coloured fan
A Budapest, Hungary, Pride-goer. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Obrán has sought to position LGBT+ people as enemies of the state all the while upping his attacks that are not only reserved for the Hungarian public but long-term allies, too.

József Szájer, a Hungarian MEP who was not only a founding member of Fidesz but helped author the conditional amendment that banned marriage equality, was caught earlier this month at a gay orgy.

He resigned from Fidesz, but not long before Orbán dubbed his behaviour as “unacceptable and indefensible”.

“I’m not surprised that there are gays in Fidesz,” explained Pongracz. “That makes it all the more disturbing how they talk about LGBT+ people.”

In the party’s decade in power, lawmakers have tweaked and tugged Hungary’s constitution with a slew of reforms that are edging towards erasing LGBT+ from existence.

In hollowing out the checks and balances vital to a democracy and corroding LGBT+ rights, the European Union has wrestled with to reel Hungary in within the bloc’s limited legal powers. But away from the legal chambers and on the ordinary streets, LGBT+ Hungarians are uneasy.

Hungary: Trans people will flee when Viktor Orbán's anti-trans law passes
People march at LGBT Pride in Budapest on July 6, 2019. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)

A Budapest Pride organiser, Agoston said he moved out to Bavaria as he “got tired of homophobia”.

Each year, there was “more and more far-right attacks on the fringes of the Pride events, not physical but verbal, but the trend was worsening.

“When I read the news now about another homophobic law, at least I know I’m out of it.”

Ivett Ordog emigrated shortly after lawmakers pushed forward legislation that effectively erased trans people from existence – it made amending gender markers on legal documents almost impossible.

Now living in Berlin, Germany, the 40-year-old reflected: “I feel calmer here, before moving I started developing psychological issues.”

“The LGBT+ community has become a scapegoat,” said Marcell Lenart, a freelance translator. The 39-year-old said that the streets in the country have become “polarised”.

“If I hold hands with my partner in public people now either demonstrate their progressiveness or they are openly homophobic.

“But we just want to be left alone. I’m not thinking of adopting right now, but if that changed soon it is upsetting that basically, I cannot do that here.”

Related topics: Budapest, emigration, EU, fidesz, Homophobia, Hungary, marriage equality, same-sex adoption, viktor orban

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