Hungary’s Eurovision broadcaster has said it is outrageous and unacceptable for journalists to write that it withdrew from Eurovision over the presence of gay performers.
As Hi Radio reports, the state-run broadcaster has firmly denied reports that have appeared in domestic media and in foreign publications like The Guardian and The Telegraph in recent days. In a statement it said: “The press statements about sexual orientation violate human dignity, press ethical standards and the rule of law.”
The broadcaster reiterated its earlier statement that it was leaving Eurovision so that it could focus on helping Hungarian musicians achieve success at home. You’ll remember that the prize for winning A Dal — its former Eurovision selection — will now include appearances and gigs at prestigious events in Hungary, rather than a trip to ESC.
MTVA added that it doesn’t acknowledge anyone’s sexual orientation — that’s gay, straight or otherwise — in any production. “However, the question arises as to why the media is writing about this,” they said.
Zoltan Kovacs, the Secretary of State for Communications and Relations in the Prime Minister’s office, has issued a particularly blistering response, describing reports as “fake news”. He said “shameless muckraking” was creating a “sensational, liberal story line.”
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
Writing in a blog post, he reiterated that leaving Eurovision is a chance for the broadcaster to help artists directly through other festivals and opportunities. He wrote:
“They couldn’t stomach a factual, reasonable explanation; they needed something more. They needed something that makes for a good headline, something that draws clicks and sells papers. And these people – who call themselves ‘journalists’ – usually don’t like to go the extra mile and look into actual details behind an argument. So, they reached for their bluntest weapon: fake news and some egregious Hungary-bashing.”
Why did Hungary withdraw from Eurovision 2020?
Eurovision fans have, of course, been discussing the country’s withdrawal for several weeks. It all started late in October when MTVA published the rules for A Dal 2020. They made it clear the contest would no longer serve as a selection for Eurovision.
Still we all retained hope that maybe they’d choose an artist internally and rock up in Rotterdam. When we approached the broadcaster for comment, they simply reiterated their earlier statement that they “will support the valuable productions created by the talents of Hungarian pop music directly” and “support the winner of A Dal 2020 with numerous promotional opportunities and a chance to perform on the stages of the most prestigious Hungarian festivals.”
Even after the EBU revealed the list of 41 competing countries, essentially confirming Hungary was out, the broadcaster still refused to provide any clarity. Countless Hungarian fans speculated on social media that the conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was likely pulling the plug over gay performers. It’s easy to understand why people consider that possible. It’s well documented that some high-level members of the ruling Fidesz party oppose LGBT rights. Among other things, some have equated same-sex adoption to pedophilia and called on a boycott of Coca-Cola for runnning an ad promoting gay tolerance. Last year a production of Billy Elliot was cancelled after a pro-government newspaper said the musical — about an aspiring male ballerina — could turn people gay.
The world outside finally took notice of Hungary’s Eurovision status when index.hu speculated about Hungary’s withdrawal, suggesting it came down to money or the government’s stance on all matters LGBT. The Guardian subsequently quoted an unnamed source at MTVA who said that despite there not being an official reason for their withdrawal, there was an assumption it had to do with Eurovision’s well-known connection to the gay community.
“I was not surprised,” the paper quoted its source as saying. “It comes from the organisational culture of MTVA.” The source added that positive coverage of LGBT rights was discouraged.
What do you think about all this? Do you think the broadcaster is covering the tracks of government officials? Is the media sensationalising a rather mundane story? Let us know down below.