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Dorottya Redai on LGBTQ+ Rights, Media and Politics in Hungary

“There is no way back to democracy in this regime, we are too far gone for that,” our Research Affiliate Dorottya Redai said in an interview with Alarm.

When asked about the LGBTQ+ situation, she said “it is certainly true that a large part of society is becoming more open. But on the other hand, especially in an environment where there is a strong political homophobic agenda, it is difficult to fight with the same commitment for so many years.”

Regarding Hungary, specifically, she claimed that homophobic politics did not start yesterday, but when Fidesz won the elections in 2010 and argued that “very early on, they started with the constitutional re-definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and they soon started rewriting the school curriculum. In 2012 and 2013, there was a big reform of the curriculum. The new curricula are quite backward-looking, taking out the whole concept of gender, talking about ‘traditional’ women and ‘traditional’ men.”

When talking about free media in Hungary, the scholar stated that “there are a few independent newspapers, but most media channels are already in the hands of the government or people who are very close to it. You will find a lot of propaganda in them.” Concerning censorship in social media, she thinks “it's not exactly censorship, but it is not completely free of government influence either. There's a lot of misinformation and, of course, government-paid troll farms.” When asked if there is any hope for a happy ending for Hungary and if Orban can be defeated, she argued that “democracy doesn't work in our country anymore, unfortunately, and authoritarian regimes cannot be defeated so easily. Only some radical change can help.”

Related to her children’s book, A Fairytale for Everyone, because of which she was nominated in the 2021 TIME100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, she said that “we have an education programme for secondary schools, and we were thinking about how to reach younger children, because we were used to working more with teenagers before. However, we thought it was important to educate younger children about different forms of discrimination and other issues. And the storybook seemed like a good idea.”

Soon after the book was published, far-right politician Dora Duro “called a press conference where she tore the book up demonstratively. It shocked a lot of people, it hurt us at first. I cried when I saw what happened to our book.” But then “suddenly everyone was interested in the book, including foreign publishers. It has already been published in ten languages,” she continued, adding that “we didn't know much about marketing then, and now, thanks to Dora Duro, we do. When you need to publicize something important, make a scandal!”

Read the full interview (in Czech) here.

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