Rainy days have given me ease over my occasional lockdown anxiety this year, making it way more acceptable to not leave the house for days. Wednesday morning was the cruel kind that would make you lose your will to live, but Alexa woke me with my favourite Christmas songs which slightly enhanced the situation. I was listening to the festive tunes with the duvet over my head until I felt ready to empathise with people’s problems again. I made coffee and asked Alexa to shush so I can loose myself in The New York Times morning briefing as I do every morning.
To my surprise The New York Times briefing headlined a heart-stubbing statement about the country that raised me and gave me a solid foundation of who I am today. And whilst the majority of my 34 years saw me as a proud Hungarian, Wednesday morning I would have loved to just dissolve into the air so I’d never have to speak about Hungary again. By then I was awake for 15 minutes but was well and truly ready to go back to bed.
I always think of The New York Times as one of the world’s most famous news outlets featuring stories that shake and shape our human existence and provoke cultural conversations. When the New York Times publishes a story about an 11 million people Eastern European country, you know something is seriously wrong. The article itself was to the point with a hint of hidden judgment but I still hadn’t realised how serious this matter was until I briefly ran through the comments made by over-opinionated AH’s from the local crowd on the Hungarian government’s own Facebook page. I had stopped caring about social media comments one lockdown ago, but this… this was something else. These comments were written in my mother tongue – the language that goes right to the heart.
Wednesday morning I came face to face with the cruel reality of my home country’s hatred towards everything that is different to what people perceive as normal: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stepped up his attacks on LGBT people recently, casting them as “an enemy of the state and of Christian values”. The Hungarian Parliament passed a raft of sweeping measures on Tuesday with a constitutional amendment that effectively bars gay couples from adopting children in Hungary by defining a family as including a man as the father and a woman as the mother. It is all to “defend the institution of marriage and family as the basis of the nation’s subsistence”. Earlier this year, the same government adopted legislation tying an individual’s gender to the person’s sex and chromosomes at birth — the first law of its kind in Europe and a clear attack on transgender rights.
Only 45 people voted against the legislation in Parliament. Those 45 people were called “rainbow people” by the Facebook crowd that also said these people “were not born from a mother” or “were probably hatched by the Sun”. The same group stated that “the bride should not have a d*ck” and “a normal family is what God wants and the EU’s Gender Action plan is wrong and goes against God’s will”.
I read the article once. Twice. Three times. I saw all my close and loose friends and acquaintances from the LGBT community in front of me and I felt ashamed of my country and its point of view on basic human rights. The same way some people apologised to me the day after the Brexit decision was made, I just wanted to apologise to them.
In 2020 putting people in carefully labelled boxes based on their skin colour, size, religion or sexuality is not cool and should have never been allowed. And whilst I’m well aware of cultural differences on diverse issues and how much our upbringing forms who we later become in life, it is never about the colour of our skin, our sexual orientation or who our God is. Our values should not be tied to man-made, irrelevant objectives because who we love does not define who we are.
And in the same train of thoughts I am overly grateful to my parents for raising me the way they did – non-judgmental and understanding, the mini version of the two of them – in a country that was built on judgments. My upbringing and the way my parents chose to teach me about life and people gave me a solid ground for beautiful friendships. And whilst I don’t believe that our sexuality makes us better or worse, my LGBT people are true gems in my life.
On a final note it is utterly disappointing that Hungary is still using divisive topics to unite its people through hate. Because the sad reality is that hatred unites people more than anything else in the world.
If you ask me, the enemy of the state is a state that is built on hate.