Navigating Hungary’s LGTB+ history, and analysing its legal frameworks, one can easily recognise the U-turn the current government has taken as regards the policies and attitudes towards the LGBT+ community developed over the last hundred years.
Like in many other European countries, there was a lively LGBT (especially gay and lesbian) scene in early 20th-century Hungary. Although same-sex relationships were a crime under the criminal code, authorities did not enforce regulations and tolerated a degree of freedom for gays and lesbians. This approach only ceased under the fascist, nazi and communist regimes of the 1940s and 50s.
In the early 1960s, some progress began to be made. In 1961, Hungary was among the first countries to decriminalise same-sex relationships, thus joining the historical sequence initiated as far back as 1791 (France), and continued in 1795 (Belgium), 1811 (the Netherlands), 1822 (Spain), and, already in the 20th century, 1932 (Poland) and 1951 (Greece).*
Hungary even preceded the first US state (Illinois, 1962), the UK (1966), and both former East and West Germany (1968 and 1969, respectively).
The legal treatment of, and social attitudes towards, the LGTB+ community changed, albeit slowly. In the 1980s, for instance, reports of police harassment were not rare; but on the whole, during and after the democratisation of Hungary, both government policies and legislation tended to ensure equality for the LGBT+ community, even though rights like marriage or adoption were not granted. This situation appeared to have been consolidated by the first decades of the 21st century.
After 2010 the tendency has changed, and the erosion of LGBT+ rights has been continuous. Especially in the last two years, rights and legal possibilities have been radically reduced.
This has had a direct and detrimental impact on the younger generations; our pupils’ lives have become more difficult. Not only do we now lack the appropriate tools and policies in schools, but the efforts of voluntary teachers and organisations are being hindered. Therefore, work needs to be done for them —for pupils, and for all who are ready for action—. Because, as agreed in the All Inc! Project’s recent meeting in Budapest, we know that young people, especially those who have to face these issues, need support, and schools need to be made safe places. The Hungarian and Polish situation highlights the importance of this purpose.
Everything in this project, including those tasks we completed in the last meeting in Budapest, serves this mission.
* Other than France and the USA, the list is of the All Inc! project’s member countries. In the case of Spain, criminalisation was reintroduced in 1928, abolished in 1931, once again reintroduced by the fascist regime of 1939, and remained in place until 1979.
This post contributed by the Hungarian team of Erzsébet and Zoltan — köszönöm csapat; nem vagy egyedül.