The Orban decree is scary — but it’s about more than trans rights
Progressives need to unite against the Orban threat, not point the finger at feminists
Hungary is a country close to my heart. I have spent a fair bit of time there investigating violence against women and girls, including trafficking into the sex trade, baby farming and adoption scams. I have become friends with feminist campaigners there, as well as others on the progressive Left. For some years now, many small and barely funded NGOs have been stripped of the right to organise — charities that help victims of sexual assault, gypsies and travellers, asylum seekers and minorities, all of whom suffer grotesque human rights violations.
And things are about to get a whole lot worse for a lot of people as Viktor Orban plans a further clampdown on human rights.
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Not that you’d know it from reading the Pink News.
“Orban moves to strip away trans rights as one of his very first acts after his pandemic power grab,” reads the headline in a report about a bill presented to parliament this week.
It does not even contain a nod to the abuse, violence and discrimination faced by lesbians and gay men under Orban. It barely mentions that this is part of a wider pattern that goes far beyond discrimination towards transgender people.
I recall travelling across Hungary to the Romanian border during the 2018 election and seeing horrific posters depicting migrants and asylum seekers as vermin. It was Orban’s election ticket. There is now a suggestion that borders will be closed to keep out foreigners.
Orban and his merry men are virulently anti-lesbian and gay rights, and also deeply misogynistic. Women are routinely and blatantly blamed when they are sexually assaulted, being told by police, ‘You can do something about it’ — in other words, prevent it happening.
But, in the ever-increasingly narcissistic narrative about trans people having to wait for ‘life-saving’ transgender surgery because of the strain on medical services under Covid-19, this becomes, according to the translobby’s favourite newspaper, all about trans — to the exclusion of other oppressed and marginalised groups.
The Bill is proposing an indefinite state of emergency under which the government will suspend whichever laws it chooses and impose up to five years of imprisonment for those media refusing to be part of the government propaganda machine. It is preparing to wriggle out of the European Convention on Human Rights obligations, which will put all vulnerable citizens at risk of abuse and discrimination.
Right now, Hungary is an EU country that is becoming a totalitarian regime. I am hoping that all progressives unite against Orban and his quest for totalitarianism — and look at the wider picture. This obsessive, disproportionate focus on the rights of transgender people to self-identify gets much more traction in the press than does the global pandemic of violence against lesbians.
It is time that the transgender rights lobby recognises that there are many other groups at risk under totalitarian regimes, and that those to blame are the fascists, not the feminists.
Absolutely correct, Douglas. I was astounded when Beth Rigby asked whether Boris was careless or negligent for catching CV-19 – she should have been thrown out for that “do you still beat your wife” style question.
Brilliant, Douglas – have been longing for you to write on this very subject. Could you explain (do you know?) why The Spectator has been increasingly taken over by Peston and his Ilk? It’s galling, particularly when it clearly has access to many genuinely interesting and well-informed writers – people who think deeply and don’t push to the front for the sake of it.
Yes, Douglas, please talk to your employers over there and get Peston removed forthwith. I also hope that Isabel Hardman finds her baby so adorable that she can’t drag herself away from the little chap.
The writer makes the same mistake she accuses others of. If Orban is indeed reaching for a totalitarian goal it is not just a problem for progressives.
Do your research, Julie. Orban has told the Hungarian Parliament they can vote to end the emergency powers anytime they see fit. Try reading non-leftist news like Voice of Europe, instead of your dumb Grauniad bigots. Try reading Orban’s speech to the Parliament (you can do it). But please give up the smearing propaganda which is destroying the progressive movement.
I can’t believe Unherd allows this ignorant, childish fearmongering to be published. And that it won’t let critics post without the ridiculous ‘hold on’ nonsense. Bye bye
Totally agree. And Peston is one of the major pests!
I agree completely with Stephen. When I lived in Oz I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Bob Hawke and I know he would have dealt decisively and completely with our Loonie Left. Though Sir Kier is a good man he ain’t got it.
A good distraction for a few years as well, allowing Boris to get on with sorting out the economy undisturbed.
This is a wonderful tribute to the Olympics, and to Emil ZÃ¡topek. Richard Askwith mentions the great ZÃ¡topek’s courage when the Prague Spring was crushed. He does not mention that before and after the Prague Spring ZÃ¡topek remained a dedicated Communist. He truly embraced the principles of equality and international solidarity that Communism was supposed to stand for, and he simply regarded the tyranny that victimized so many millions of people, himself not excluded, as a perversion of the ideology to which he adhered. His story should remind people on the right that not everyone on the far left is necessarily a hypocrite or an opportunist or deranged. Some of them may truly be noble spirits, as ZÃ¡topek certainly was. It would be a mistake to cut off dialogue with them. Perhaps Askwith can tell us if there were any Western distance runners so deluded that they rejected ZÃ¡topek’s revolutionary training concepts because they couldn’t abide his politics.
So Kier worked primarily on human rights issues?
Does that mean he suffers from the same weltenshaung as the rest of the Labour Party which allowed grooming gangs to run rampant across the middle of England?
Sorry Julie but he vast majority of people in Hungary do not agree with you. There is a tolerance of people among ordinary folk you do not seem to recognize. You live in a bubble so obsessed with victimization you cannot see the real word where the majority of people tend to muddle on together regardless of their sexuality. Often times the fascists appear to be the groups you inhabit including the radical feminists you advocate for. Chill out. Most people in the modern world do these days.
Dear G H
You are missing the point. To the progressives tolerance is not enough, matter of fact it is outright humiliating! They want to take the moral high ground from the traditional family model. According to the convoluted way of thinking, traditional family model is ONLY working for the toxic mosculine men. Vast majority of Hungarians see through this sieve, reject deviance and elected a man (democraticly) to represent their values. We used to call this DEMOCRACY!
I was searching for a definition of toxic femininity and this has it all.
Superb report! The most poignant moment in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Soumission about an Islamist takeover of France comes when FranÃ§ois his young, sexy Jewish girlfriend Myriam decides to move to Israel because of the growing anti-Semitism in the country. It occurs to FranÃ§ois that there is no Israel where a Gentile like him can take refuge if France becomes unlivable.
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