by Julie Bindel
Friday, 3
April 2020
Reaction
12:40

The Orban decree is scary — but it’s about more than trans rights

by Julie Bindel
Things are about to get a lot worse for a lot people as Viktor Orban plans a further clampdown on human rights. Credit: Getty

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.

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.

Join the discussion


  • April 8, 2020
    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 Read more

  • April 8, 2020
    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... Read more

  • April 5, 2020
    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... Read more

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