The Empire Strikes Back

Terry Black's Facebook profile photo.

Terry Black (Facebook profile photo).

On November 10, 2016, the Andy Vajna-owned, pro-government TV2 television station broadcast a report entitled “Gábor Vona’s Secret Life” [Vona Gábor titkos élete] in which transgender performer and former gay adult-film actor Terry Black (Mihály Rácz) alleged that he had seen the president of the radical-nationalist Jobbik party engaging in homosexual acts at gatherings of Hungarian intellectuals in the early 2000s (source A and B in Hungarian).

The pro-government commercial media, including, PestiSrá, and the Árpád Habony-operated loká, carried the TV2 report, which was broadcast just two days after Jobbik National Assembly representatives had followed through with their threat not to support the government-sponsored proposed amendment to the Fundamental Law that would have prevented the European Union from resettling Middle Eastern and African refugees in Hungary if government “residency-bonds” were not first eliminated (see Updated: Amendments to the Fundamental Law and The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program).

See entire post.


Invasion of the HomoVikings

Viking Ship to send Good 2On May 21, the Prime Ministry instructed the Government Control Office (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal, or KEHI) to launch an investigation of the use of EEA Grant funding for non-government organizations in Hungary.

KEHI is state organization that conducts oversight of the use of public money in Hungary. The EEA Grants are endowments that non-European Union countries Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein provide to lesser developed EU states, including Hungary, in order to maintain access the union’s internal market as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). Norway provides funding for 96 percent of the EEA Grants, while Iceland and Liechtenstein contribute the remaining 4 percent (see EEA Grants website in English).

The EEA Grants allocated 13.5 million euros in funding to around 150 NGOs in Hungary for the 2013-2017 funding period through the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation (Ökotárs Alapítvány).

The Prime Minister’s Office asked KEHI to audit the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation and the non-government organizations that received EEA Grants during the current funding period after János Lázár, the Orbán government minister who runs the office, accused Norway in early April of indirectly supporting the liberal-green Hungarian opposition party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) through support to pro-LMP NGOs (source in Hungarian).

On May 30, the Orbán government published a list of 13 of these NGOs that it considered to be closely connected to Politics Can Be Different (source in Hungarian): these most prominently included organizations that monitor the corrupt use of state funding (the Transparency International Hungarian Foundation, K Monitor and the Asimov Foundation, which runs the website Átlátszó.hu); civil-rights organizations (the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union); and gay-rights organizations (the Labrisz Lesbian Association and Rainbow Mission Hungary, organizer of the annual Budapest Pride LGBT festival and parade). These organizations have been very critical of the Orbán administration for its opaque use of public money in order to build a pro-Fidesz oligarchy (see Lajos Simicska/Közgép), disregard for civil liberties and indifference toward gay rights (see The Cardboard Men).

The government of Norway strenuously protested KEHI’s audit of the EEA Grants, asserting in a communiqué that it violated agreements the country had signed regarding management of this funding (source in English). The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, furthermore,summoned Hungary’s ambassador to Norway, Antal government foreign minister Géza Jeszenszky, on June 5 to formally protest the audit.

On June 10, Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Tibor Navracsics summoned the ambassador of Norway to Hungary to discuss the growing dispute between the two countries.

On June 13 KEHI published the following item on the organization’s website (see Orange Files translation of bottom post):


Norwegian Fund Good for Post


In characteristically deceptive Orbánian fashion, KEHI referred to the program Célpont [Target] broadcast on the pro-government television station Hír TV as the source of these claims at the end of the short piece linked to this heading. 


The Cardboard Men

cardboard men

Representatives from the Fidesz-KDNP coalition (right) attend roundtable discussion on gay rights in Hungary.

The 2013 Budapest Pride gay parade was held on July 6 amid tight security, as it has since radical right-wing demonstrators severely disrupted the event in 2007 and 2008. For the past five years, the Budapest Police has prevented protesters from assaulting Budapest Pride procession by stationing riot cops at heavy security fence erected on cross streets one block on either side of the parade route along its entire length. One can gain access to the parade only by passing through a security checkpoint at the beginning of the route on Heroes‘ Square. Otherwise, one cannot get closer than a football field in length to the parade as it proceeds down Andrássy Avenue to the center of the city. There have been progressively fewer and fewer demonstrators heckling paraders from afar under this hermetically sealed security arrangement. Only a couple of hundred right-wing protesters showed up for this year’s Budapest Pride procession, most of them belonging to a new radical nationalist group that calls itself Guards of the Carpathian Homeland (Kárpát Haza Őrei).

The Budapest Pride parade is a microcosm of the overall status of homosexuality in Hungary: tolerated, though only in sterile isolation from the heterosexual world and to a lesser degree since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán started pulling the political strings in Hungary as opposition leader more than six years ago. The Fundamental Law that Orbán and the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) administration adopted after coming to power in 2010 stipulates that marriage must be between a man and a woman, thus making Hungary the fifth European Union member state following Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania to constitutionally ban, by exclusion, same-sex marriage. (A sixth European Union member state, Romania, prohibits same-sex marriage in the country’s civil code.) Fidesz declined to participate in any of the Budapest Pride week events to which it was invited, sending nobody to represent the party at a roundtable discussion on gay rights in Hungary or to march in the annual parade.

Fidesz’s official stand on homosexuality is one of cold neutrality. A party communiqué to the news website stated that “Homosexuality is a private affair that Fidesz does not want to make into a public affair. In connection to Budapest Pride, everybody has the right to participate in the event, just as they have a right to not participate in it.” In response to a question from the news website whether Fidesz supported the Budapest Pride parade, party Communications Director Máté Kocsis said “Fidesz has no opinion on this question. I have not conducted a poll regarding who is going and who is not. Everybody will decide for themselves. I, myself, am not going to participate.” Asked about news that  Budapest Pride organizers planned to present him with a rainbow flag to fly temporarily outside city hall, de facto Fidesz Budapest Mayor István Tarlós said that “It would be better if they would refrain from this open provocation, because the mayor does not have the ways and means of placing this flag on city hall.” Tarlós earlier in the week pretended not to know what Budapest Pride was when a reporter from asked him a question about the event. After being told what it was, he answered “I stand on the other side.”

Both Mayor Tarlós and Prime Minister Orbán declined invitations to participate in the Budapest Pride parade. This is understandable from a political point of view. Under the conditions of extreme political polarization that exist in Hungary, for them to attend an event that in political terms has traditionally been identified with the Budapest liberal élite would signify a concession to the opponent. Moreover, it would drive a certain number of Fidesz voters into the arms of the radical right-wing nationalist Jobbik party, which announced this week that if it ever comes to power it will ban Budapest Pride and other “deviant, provocative, exhibitionist programs.” However, in this instance Fidesz could still have sent lesser party representatives, even non-official known sympathizers, to attend the Budapest Pride events to which it was invited. Instead, only feigned ignorance, haughty standoffishness and rigidly noncommittal communiqués.

Throughout much of western Europe and North America national and city government officials openly support gay-pride events, often marching at the head of gay parades. Hungary, though a more traditional eastern European country, appeared to be proceeding in this direction during the first decade of Budapest Pride, which started in earnest in 1997. The reversal of progress in the area of gay rights in Hungary over the past seven years fits squarely into the overall pattern of democratic regression that has taken place in the country over that period.

See Orange Files photo gallery of 2013 Budapest Pride parade. 

Gay Parade Post Photo






See Orange Files photo gallery of 2007 and 2008 Budapest Pride parades.

Post Photo Gay Parade-2