Posted by Jean Smith on behalf of author Zsuzsa Ferge.

The Orbán regime introduced legislation to shut down accredited gender studies programs offered by universities in Hungary. Academics now have 24 hours to respond to the government’s plan. The ban will primarily impact students at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (ELTE)–the only institution in Hungary, other than Central European University, to offer gender studies at the graduate level, and the only one to provide this program in Hungarian.

The number of students impacted by the ban is small–only 11 applicants were admitted this year at ELTE and two at CEU. The maximum number of students that ELTE can admit any given year is 18 and those enrolled this coming academic year will be the last to take this program in Hungary. The decision to give those impacted 24 hours, in the middle of the summer vacation, to respond to this plan is a prime example of the spectacular arrogance that this regime has displayed for the past eight years. Gender studies in Hungary hardly pose a risk to the social narratives espoused by Fidesz and the Christian Democrats, but this regime is best known for kicking people and sectors of the society when they are down.

Although the government is not formally citing ideological reasons for its decision to cancel gender studies (the official reason is that this program is not “economically rational”), circles within Fidesz, most notably its Christian Democrat (KDNP) wing, have been calling for this for some time. In 2017, Lőrinc Nacsa, the leader of KDNP’s youth wing, labelled gender studies at ELTE as a wasteful luxury and also as destructive. “We must raise awareness to the fact that these programs are doing nothing to lift up our nation. In fact, they are destroying the values-centered mode of thinking that is still present in the countries of Central Europe,” wrote Mr. Nacsa in his letter to the rector of ELTE.

As well, HVG reminds its readers today that State Secretary Bence Rétvári (KDNP) in the Ministry of Human Capacities questioned whether gender studies even qualifies as a legitimate academic field, adding that this field of research is at odds with everything that the Fidesz government espouses.

I could feign shock at this news or recite the obscene mantra of how Fidesz has now truly crossed a red line–a line that up until now nobody would have thought that they would pass. Yet this would be insincere. It’s too late to be horrified that this can happen in Hungary–it’s about eight years too late. Most sectors and demographics of Hungarian society, from journalists to shop owners to NGOs, have already felt the scourge of the party state in profound ways. Academics are next in line.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 768 other subscribers.

Follow us on Twitter