Emmett Hegedűs: "I didn't mean to be like this"
Photo: Akos Stiller / DER SPIEGEL
Every time Emmett Hegedűs holds his ID in his hand, he knows he doesn't belong.
The young person from a suburb of Budapest is trans, his registered first name is different from the one he uses himself.
But adaptation is now impossible in Hungary.
Since last May, it has been forbidden by law to change the maiden name or gender in the ID card.
And if the government has its way, Emmett can't even speak openly about it to his teachers.
In order to allegedly protect against pedophilia, educational classes are also to be restricted in the future.
Media and advertising will be adopted at the beginning of July
"LGBTQ law" prohibits families from being presented in any other way than the unity of mother, father and child.
"The ban on the› representation and dissemination ‹of LGBTIQ identities would mean that our offers are no longer accessible to young people under the age of 18," says Luca Dudits of Hungary's perhaps best-known NGO Háttér Society to SPIEGEL. "The change in the law clearly violates the right to freedom of expression, human dignity and equal treatment." Last but not least, the ban on offers of assistance endangers the health of trans-young people, as they are particularly often at risk of suicide, according to Dudits.
The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is campaigning against minorities. Critics say the issue has long since replaced the dispute over refugees in the public debate.
The English abbreviation LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
From the point of view of human rights organizations in Hungary, members of these groups have been increasingly discriminated against for years.
Now the dispute with the authoritarian government could finally escalate.
The European Union is now also concerned with the new LGBTQ law.
The Commission has now started infringement proceedings in response.
Europe will never allow "parts of our society to be discriminated," said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
But so far the government in Budapest has not thought about giving in, on the contrary.
A few days ago, Orbán announced a referendum for the coming spring to confirm his course.
In five mostly rhetorical questions
the Hungarians should then speak out in favor of protecting children and against "promoting" homosexuality and transsexuality.
This announcement is now also mobilizing civil society in Hungary.
Last weekend alone, more than 30,000 people demonstrated for more equality at the “Budapest Pride”.
It was the largest such rally in the country to date.
The NGO Háttér has already announced that it will defend its work in court if necessary.
"We will not adhere to the ban on information," said Luca Dudits.
Here Emmett and four other victims tell of their anger, their fear, and why they want to fight the referendum.
Lilla Tokovics, 23, employee
“I moved from the countryside to Budapest when I was 18 because I thought it would be better here.
I wanted to enjoy the big city life, the freedom.
But now we have to hide here too.
If I hold hands with a woman, passers-by offend us.
Anyone who works in the public service no longer comes out for fear
to be released later because of it.
When I heard about the referendum, I cried.
And then when I saw the government posters, I did it again.
It's as unfair and mean as we are portrayed.
How can we be accused of endangering the protection of children?
I feel really uncomfortable when I think about the future in Hungary. "
Emmett Hegedűs, 17, student, brother of Máté
“I knew when I was ten that I was interested in girls.
When I was 12, I began to understand that I was a boy.
When I was 14, I was sure.
At the time, I didn't know what transgender meant.
I didn't even know the word, even though I grew up in a liberal family.
And no, I didn't mean to be like that.
I was afraid.
But if the government has its way, I've been manipulated or reeducated.
According to current laws, it is forbidden to educate young people up to their 18th birthday about diversity.
Trans people cannot change their name.
Gays and lesbians are not allowed to adopt children.
That is hard.
I am fortunate that my family loves and accepts me for who I am.
My big brother is gay himself and one of the organizers of Pride.
My parents, my sister and he stand by me.
After some hesitation, my teachers are now also supporting me.
Now everyone is using my new name.
But I still have to go to the girls' cubicle for physical education classes.
I was able to give a short speech at the Pride demonstration.
I tried to show what it means to be in my position.
Support is needed, especially during puberty.
I haven't felt normal for a long time, despite my surroundings.
I often wonder how others are doing.
It's all hard enough as it is.
Trans young people are challenged twice.
That it shouldn't be talked about is fatal for us. "
Máté Hegedűs, 24, student, co-organizer of Budapest Pride
“Orbán's Fidesz party has declared us enemies for about a year.
Since then, even righteous forces have felt encouraged to attack us.
Our flags were stolen and burned.
Children's books have been publicly destroyed because they also featured gay characters.
Trans people and homosexuals are beaten and insulted in the street.
Since then I've often asked myself: what's going on here?
I'm 1.90 meters tall and rather masculine, so far I haven't felt physically threatened myself.
But when it comes to others from the community, I'm scared.
It's a grotesque campaign
But I'm afraid it will arrive.
It makes me so angry every time I see government posters and know that I pay taxes for being accused of "sexual propaganda."
The posters for the referendum are already hanging everywhere.
A blue background, white text and an emoji.
Always a question: Are you afraid of Brussels?
Do you want your children to be influenced by sexual propaganda?
The emojis should show you how you should feel about it: fearful and angry.
The government is using the topic to further expand its power.
The attacks are intended to distract attention from other problems: Young people go abroad.
Old people hardly have a pension.
The health system is bad.
Add to that the corruption.
But instead of talking about it, the focus now is on whether queer people put children at risk.
We're trying to tell people that's not true.
We don't want to re-educate children.
Lesbians, gays and trans people are not contagious, nobody gets queer out of boredom.
The pressure on us is enormous.
The referendum is perfidious.
The five questions are formulated in such a way that they cannot be contradicted.
Nobody wants to oppose the protection of children.
Our only chance is therefore that as many invalid votes as possible are cast.
But exclusion also brought us together.
We knew this year's Pride parade was going to be bigger.
It is no longer just about us, but also about the rights of other groups: migrants, Roma - actually the entire civil society is struggling to survive.
This is the only way to explain why 30,000 people suddenly took to the streets together.
Looking away is no longer an alternative in Hungary. "
Vivien G., 51, engineer
“I came out to my family decades ago and I'm sure I would do it again today.
But I can hardly imagine what it means to be young and lesbian today.
Only recently a young girl tried to kill herself in my home village.
Before that, it came out that she loves women.
I have now become active again myself at Labrisz, an organization of lesbian and bisexual women.
In the years before that, it wasn't a big issue for me, work and private life seemed more important.
But the government's hate campaign is unprecedented.
Fidesz propaganda is now running on all channels.
That's why I decided to do something.
In the years under Orbán, things have gotten worse and worse.
I have many examples of exclusion from this time: In a hotel, my partner and I were laughed at by the staff because we had put our single beds together.
In another we did not get a double room because it was reserved for married couples.
We didn't fight back.
Anyone who does not follow conservative values in Hungary will be attacked.
But I hope they went too far this time.
If the referendum fails, that could also herald a change of government.
The fact that there are elections next spring is also an opportunity that we must seize.
I don't want to be a second class person anymore. "
David Scholl, 22, student
“Budapest is considered liberal, but here, too, I would never dare hold hands with a man.
The mere suspicion of being gay leads to abuse.
Even if you are unaccompanied.
I've been offended by almost every age group.
We have long since developed a sense of which situations to avoid.
I generally avoid groups of young men at night.
There have been situations in which I was not beaten up just because others intervened, I got into a taxi and drove away.
I think that's the way a lot of queer people feel.
Unfortunately, the climate in Hungary has also been made worse by the media.
My grandmother, who only watches pro-government television, lives in a completely different world from me.
Many state media are free, but almost everything is controlled by the government.
It is only about Christian values, minorities and enemies from outside.
I know none of this is normal here.
Part of my family comes from Germany, so I got to know other conditions.
But what's the point?
In my circle of friends, emigration has long since become normal.
Even with those who are not lesbian or gay.
Many of our generation have simply had enough, as the Pride Parade recently demonstrated.
The referendum will only further divide our society.
Our nerves are already strained every day.
is not that good.
We are constantly stressed.
It's an everlasting struggle.
You don't want to let the committed people down here, but you also want to lead a life in dignity.
I don't want to wait any longer myself, I will move to Germany in the autumn. "
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