Hungary has pulled out of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest due to the contest’s LGBTQ-friendly nature and encouragement of LGBTQ representation.
While no official reason was given for the withdrawal, sources within Hungary’s state-owned public broadcaster MTVA believe the decision is due to a rise in homophobic rhetoric stemming from the Hungarian government’s right-wing lurch and its emphasis on promoting traditional values.
In previous years, MTVA hosted its own song contest, with the winner going on to represent Hungary in the continent-wide contest. But last month, the broadcaster announced that the country’s in-house contest would instead focus on the hit of the year.
That announcement was considered a signal that Hungary was planning not to compete in the upcoming 2020 contest, something confirmed last week when the list of competing countries was released.
A source at MTVA told The Guardian that staff believe the decision to withdraw from the contest was due to Eurovision’s pro-LGBTQ attitudes, which conflict with MTVA’s policy of discouraging positive coverage or portrayals of LGBTQ individuals or LGBTQ rights.
That follows a report by Hungarian website index.hu last week that claimed Hungary had withdrawn because Eurovision was perceived as “too gay,” and that a pro-government commentator had even called Eurovision a “homosexual flotilla.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has denied those claims, but has not offered any other explanation.
However, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party has made its stance against homosexuality and embrace of “traditional values” well known. Orbán has even initiated a “family first” policy to incentivize marriage and childbearing in an effort to boost birth rates as the country’s population continues to decline.
Other government officials have not been shy in expressing their contempt for homosexuality. Earlier this year, László Kövér, the speaker of the Hungarian parliament, compared same-sex adoption to pedophilia.
Deputy Speaker István Boldog called for a boycott of Coca-Cola after the company launched an advertising campaign for a local music festival using photographs of a gay couple.
This is not the first time that Eurovision has been criticized for its LGBTQ-friendly nature.
In 2014, a Russian legislator attempted — and failed — to cancel the broadcast in Russia on the grounds that it “propagandizes homosexuality,” thus putting it into conflict with Russia’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law.
Russian politicians also went into an uproar after Conchita Wurst, an Austrian singer and drag queen, won Eurovision that same year, with some politicians calling for a boycott of the contest for promoting homosexuality or portraying it in a favorable light.
Despite that bluster, Hungary’s withdrawal is the first time a country has pulled out over social issues. Some have withdrawn over financial worries or geopolitical issues, only to return later.
Now in its 65th year, the 2020 contest will be hosted in Amsterdam and feature 41 countries, including Bulgaria and Ukraine, who are returning after a one-year hiatus.
The European Broadcasting Union, which runs the contest, told The Guardian that “it is not uncommon for EBU members to have breaks in participation in the Eurovision song contest.”
“We hope to welcome their broadcaster MTVA back to the Eurovision song contest family soon,” the EBU said in a statement.
An Iowa man who allegedly left handwritten notes saying "burn that gay flag" on residents' homes last Saturday has been arrested and charged with a hate crime.
Robert Clark Geddes, 25, of Boone, has been charged with four count of trespass with a hate crime enhancement, and four counts of third-degree harassment. He was remanded to the custody of the Boone County Jail, according to a news release from the Boone Police Department.
In four separate criminal complaints, police allege that Geddes -- whose picture was captured by a Ring Doorbell camera and used to identify him -- "entered upon the property of the victim without the permission of the owner(s) and with the intent to commit a hate crime." He then allegedly left handwritten notes taped to the doors of homes with Pride flags, rainbow-colored doormats, or other displays that have typically been associated with support for the LGBTQ community.
Eduardo Leite, the governor of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and a potentially high-profile challenger to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has come out as gay.
Leite, 36, from the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party, made the announcement during an interview with Brazil's top broadcaster, TV Globo, last Thursday.
"I'm gay -- and I'm a governor who is gay rather than a gay governor," Leite said in the interview. "Just as Obama in the United States wasn't a Black president, but a president who was Black. And I'm proud of this."
Leite's announcement is a significant development in a country that has become infamous internationally for its homophobia and violence directed against members of the LGBTQ community.
Thousands protested outside Hungary's national parliament in Budapest on Monday, decrying legislation that bans discussions or depictions of homosexuality or gender transition in schools and in the media.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist, has ramped up political attacks targeting the LGBTQ community -- as well as immigrants and other ethnic groups -- ahead of the 2022 elections next year, in hope that an appeal on culturally divisive issues will help his Fidesz party stay in power.
Fidesz has claimed that LGBTQ activists and others are attempting to corrupt minors, employing homophobic tropes about gay men, in particular, as predators whose influence can potentially harm the "physical, mental, and moral development."
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