In the last few weeks – both the Polish TVP and the Hungarian MTVA hosted talkshow debates on LGBTI-issues where only homophobes were invited to. “A pattern of cooperation to increase the reach of homophobic discourse can be seen”, according to political scientist Rémy Bonny.
Hungarian MTVA on “healing gays”
On the 16th of January – the MTVA talkshow ‘Ez itt a kérdés…’ (English: ‘There Is Here…’) discussed the possibility of “healing gays”. After a rather short documentary on the topic, the host Trombitás Kristóf Keresztély opened the debate with catholic priest Hodász András and conservative author and former journalist Szőnyi Szilárddal. While not explicitly calling homosexuality an illness, they discussed the “effectiveness” of conversion therapy.
The priest said that a lot of gays actually don’t want to live a homosexual life and then they should be helped: “and God’s faith can help a lot”.
Trombitás raised questions on the political correctness around LGBTI-issues: “Whoever says he’s a homosexual gets a huge forum, but homosexuals who find themselves heterosexual are being silenced. Why does it seem like a one-way street?”
He later added: “Most LGBTI-organisations exist out of young people. Is it so weird to think that this people are just uncertain about their identity and sexuality?”
Polish TVP on “pedophilia and homosexuality”
On the 23th of February – TVP’s talkshow ‘Salonie Dziennikarskim’ organised a debate on the accusations of pedophilia of Catholic priest Janowskiego and the introduction of the ‘LGBT+ declaration’ by Warsaw’s mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. TV-host Jacek Karnowski invited Jan Pospieszalski, Andrzej Rafał Potocki, Maciej Pawlicki and Wiktor Świetlik.
Musician and journalist Pospieszalski discussed the introduction of sex education in Poland. “Introducing sex-ed based on WHO standards will lead to children in a kindergarten being depraved, and in primary school they learn to masturbate and learn about the charms of contraception and homosexuality.” He further said that sex-ed would “at the same time promote the most radical forms of sexuality”, which he summarises as: “the promotion of pedophilia.”
Movie Director Pawlicki sees a conspiracy of the gay community. “Their goal is promoting and expanding the number of homosexuals”, according to the director of the 2016 movie ‘Smolensk’. As a conclusion he states that “homosexuality is like vampirism. The younger children experience it, the more their sexuality is disturbed.”
According to political scientist Rémy Bonny, these TV talkshows are not a ‘coincidence’. He is an expert in LGBTI-politics in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Since last year, I see an increase in homophobic discourse in Europe. It more and more looks like this is internationally coordinated. During the summer months, we saw Belgian, Italian and Polish ministers giving similar homophobic comments. Now we see that homophobes are taking control over public broadcasters”, according to Bonny.
He refers to the homophobic World Congress of Families (WCF) and the International Federation or Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC) as the main organisations of this international cooperation. “In the case of Hungary, we see that the minister of youth and family Katalin Novak is already one of the speakers on the WCF since 2014. A leaked participant list of a 2014 conference in Moscow even shows she was invited by Igor Beloborodov. He’s a high-ranking Russian government employee who openly accuses the gay community of the spread of HIV. A lot more of these links can be found.”
“The impact on European politics of the WCF and IFTCC is increasing. This year not only Hungary is sending officials to the conference, but also Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and several of his cabinet members are on the speakers’ list. Originally – even President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani was on the speakers’ list. But he withdrew after protest from within the European Parliament. Russian Archriest Dmitri Smirnov and Moldovan president Igor Dodon are also going to speak during the conference.”
A vain attempt?
“It is not that weird that the people who want to fight our community are internationally organising themselves. That’s what the LGBTI-movement does as well. They’re learning from us.”, according to Bonny.
Nevertheless Bonny argues that the rise in homophobic discourse might also be seen as a last resort of conservatives in their fight against LGBTI-equality. “Both in Hungary and Poland – opinion polls suggest that the society is becoming more and more progressive towards the LGBTI-community. 56% of the Poles are in favour of registered partnerships for same-sex couples – according to a poll of last week. A 2017 poll by ILGA even showed that 64% of Hungarians agreed that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should enjoy the same rights as straight people. Both Warsaw and Budapest have a well-organised and vibrant LGBTI-scene.”