This article is part of our special report EURACTIV Archives: Five times Eurovision went political.
Hungary will not take part in Eurovision 2020, the annual song contest that will take place in Rotterdam next year. Reports have emerged that the reason was the high number of LGBTQ+ participants, which goes going against the conservative views of Viktor Orbán’s government.
But the Hungarian Public Service Media (MTVA), the national public-service broadcasting organisation, vehemently denies the claims.
The company considers “outrageous and unacceptable” the media reports saying that the “high number of homosexual performers” played a role in Hungary’s decision.
“These press statements about one’s sexual orientation violate human dignity, journalism ethics and rule of laws. The professional decision has been made that instead of attending the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020, directly the talents of the Hungarian pop music and their valuable performances will be supported,” MTVA said.
“We want to lay down that one’s sexual orientation is not being considered at any performance or event,” it stated.
Public figures who support the government have previously expressed negative views of Eurovision and its participants. András Bencsik, a journalist and TV commentator for pro-government stations, called the festival a “homosexual fleet demonstration,” “a disgusting, propagandistic otherness festival embodied by Conchita Wursts.”
Wurst is the stage name of Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth, who won the contest in 2014, performing in female clothes.
Orban’s spokesperson simply called the media reports ‘fake news.’ “This is shameless muckraking, gossip from your liberal press organs,” Zoltán Kovács wrote on his Twitter account.
What are you talking about? This is shameless muckraking, gossip from your liberal press organs. Nobody in the HU government ever said Eurovision is, in your words, “too gay.” But don’t let the facts get in the way of your sensational, liberal story line. #fakenews https://t.co/yLc0TW8CUr
— Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) November 27, 2019
Prominent government officials have also made homophobic comments recently. “In the moral sense, there is no difference between a pedophile” and those who demand the right to adopt for gay couples, parliament speaker László Kövér said at a town hall in May.
Viktor Orbán, who has been prime minister since 2010, has vehemently opposed the idea of accepting migrants from Africa or Asia, cracked down on civil society and non-governmental organisations and called for Europe’s return to its “Christian roots”.
The alliance of public service media organisation that produces the show sought to play down Hungary’s withdrawal.
“It is not uncommon for European Broadcasting Union (EBU) members to have breaks in participation in the Eurovision song contest,” it told The Guardian. “We hope to welcome their broadcaster MTVA back to the Eurovision song contest family soon.”
Hungary has participated in the song contest every year since 2011.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]