How hatred of gay people became a key plank in Hungary’s authoritarian turn

Viktor Orbán’s war on LGBTQ identities is a war on democracy.

By Zack Beauchamp


During last week’s European championship soccer match between Germany and Hungary, the rainbow was everywhere on the German side. The German goalie wore a rainbow armband; the team’s fans donned rainbow wigs and waved rainbow flags.



All of this was directed at the opposing side: The Germans were protesting a new Hungarian law banning LGBTQ sex education and media directed at minors — a measure that has sparked outrage in Europe and elsewhere against Hungary.

While this may look like a PR mess for Hungary’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party, it’s in keeping with the right-wing populist playbook that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has turned to over and over again to shore up his authoritarian rule. In the past few years, demonizing queer and trans identities has become a central part of Orbán’s campaign for maintaining his grip on power.


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - RIGHT.


The criticism from Europe, if anything, bolsters the strategy. It allows the Hungarian government to tout its core ideological argument: that it is the Hungarian Christian family’s champion against a godless, globalist European Union.

“Hungary asserts its role as ‘defender of traditional values’ while mostly West European states get to claim moral superiority with no one paying any price for it,” says Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia who studies far-right politics.


The new anti-LGBTQ rules — which were tacked on at the last minute to a bill increasing penalties for sex crimes against children — are part of a broader slate of legal attacks on the queer community that strengthen Orbán’s regime, the only non-democratic government in the European Union.


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