Pride and fury: Do Hungarian opposition parties care about LGBTQ rights?

This past weekend marked the opening of Budapest’s annual Pride celebrations. Kriszta Székely, the 34 year old director of the Katona József Theatre, opened this year’s Pride with an impassioned and at times angry speech, in which she took to task not only the Orbán government, but the opposition too. Both the Népszava daily and the Magyar Narancs magazine published Ms. Székely’s speech, which included some crass language that HFP would normally be slightly too prudish to publish. This time, as it has appeared in this form in some of Hungary’s oldest and most respectable publications, we will make an exception.

“When they asked me to give this speech, I could not imagine myself any other way, but screaming and yelling ‘mother fucker’ from this pulpit. I am standing here at age 34 in a country that has no mind and that has no heart. Citizens stand around me who tolerate those in power treating fleeing people, children and indeed their own Roma citizens as animals,” remarked Ms. Székely. She then added that there was no responsible political party in Hungary to which “it would be worth speaking to on political matters.”

“I just can’t believe that in this country there is no longer any good, that greediness, hate and a lack of respect are Hungary’s leading values,” she added.

Kriszta Székely

Ms. Székely’s suggestion that no political party in Hungary is worthy of dialogue when it comes to LGBTQ or social justice issues is unfair, considering that representatives of three opposition parties made a point of attending the opening of Pride week and were present for her speech. Those present from the opposition included Rebeka Szabó of the Párbeszéd party (Dialogue), who is also the deputy mayor of the district of Zugló, Balázs Szücs, district councillor in Budapest’s Erzsébetváros, and also a member of Párbeszéd, as well as Viktor Szigetvári and Péter Juhász of the Együtt party and Gábor Fodor of the Hungarian Liberal Party.

When Hungarian politicians champion LGBTQ rights and attend Pride, they don’t do this for the photo op or to earn political brownie points with the general population. Their demonstration of support and their attendance should be commended, as it is an act of courage in Hungary’s current social climate. The collective weight of the three parties in attendance might be fairly small, but when I had lunch with one of those politicians in attendance the other day in Budapest, he was rightly taken aback by the slight that they received at the event.

On a more constructive note, Ms. Székely did suggest that the answer in Hungary was to “embrace each other and start over.” She also spoke about how she once dreamed of being a ballerina, but realized that she did not possess the type of delicate femininity that she felt was required for success in that field.

The 22nd annual Pride Festival’s main march will take place on July 8th. This year, the organizers plan to march without barricades and police cordons.

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