Budapest LGBT groups aim to change perception as new laws weigh down…
Sándor Steigler, a Budapest resident, is the president of the Rainbow Mission Foundation. He answered some questions about the RMF, its film festival, Pride Week, and the status of LGBT people in Hungary.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE RMF?
The Rainbow Mission Foundation was established by LGBT associations that had previously organised Budapest Pride. The first LGBT festival in Hungary (the first ever held in formerly socialist countries) was held in 1993. I’ve helped organize in it for six years (three years as curator).
WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE ORGANIZATION?
Our goal is to show the public our daily lives, via films, for example, to show that we are not “freaks”. We are humans, too! We work, love and have families; or at least we try to (current law just doesn’t allow it). We just do not have the same chance to have a full life. Current law does not provide equal rights, even if we are all entitled to it.
HOW IS THE GLBT COMMUNITY DOING IN HUNGARY? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
Just like people throughout society, we are diverse as well. Not every gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individual thinks the same way. This year we would really like Think to get the LGBT community to stand as one to fight for rights more effectively. We’re convinced that, by joining together, the Budapest Pride March could finally advance the cause of LGBT rights in Hungary.
DO YOU BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT’S MEDIA RULES AND OTHER EFFORTS ARE DIRECTLY AIMED AT YOU?
Yes. The new media law will impact the representation of LGBT people in television and on the radio, especially the public service media. LGBT organizations have been attacked in the past in the name of protecting the family and young children, and based on the relevant parts of the media law, it’s plausible that it will be used to limit representations of LGBT individuals in the news. But what we need to call attention to and protest is the new constitution that is in the works, drafts of which exclude same-sex couples from the institution of marriage.
HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP? WHO HAS HELPED BEFORE?
People can help the most if they come to our programs and get a real picture of LGBT people, thereby reducing the strong bias against LGBT people in Hungary. The festival’s films, the workshops and the Gay Dignity March should help tear down prejudice. Many people get information from television, but if they personally attend, they’ll see that our community is, in fact, multihued. Leading up to Budapest Pride, we’ve organized some parties for the friends of the festival, where they can meet the organizers, and they can contribute to the festival with the entrance fee.
As a reaction to the ban, several foreign organizations offered their help and showed their solidarity. Many have promised to continue to support the Gay Dignity Marches.
WHAT WOULD HAVE TO HAPPEN FOR THE WORK OF YOUR FOUNDATION TO BE COMPLETED AND PERMANENTLY SUCCESSFUL?
The goal is to gain full equality before the law. As this is, achieved the Gay Pride March will increasingly become a more cheerful parade where, focused on celebrating the community’s diversity, as in many Western European countries. But we also commemorate the New York gays and transvestites, who were tired of the constant police harassment and stood up for themselves in 1969. Stonewall’s anniversary reelections in the year ahead means the message is even more timely today than ever before.