Fidesz considers aiding paedophilia a crime, but only if they can accuse their opponents of it
February 07. 2024. – 11:27 AM
"There is no excuse for paedophilia. And it is the responsibility of adults to protect children at all costs," the Hungarian Prime Minister said last year in his annual speech, evaluating the year behind. The news broke a few days ago, that President Katalin Novák has granted clemency to a man involved in covering up the case of a paedophile headmaster, a move that runs completely contrary to what the government and Fidesz have been communicating: that not only is paedophilia a crime, but so is covering it up. This is especially true when political opponents can be accused of paedophilia, even without evidence.
For the past several days, the government has been silent. The leader of the Fidesz parliamentary group, Máté Kocsis spoke up on Tuesday, and somehow found the way to shift responsibility for this onto the left, disavowing any responsibility by saying that 'the right to pardon is the exclusive right of the head of state, regardless of whether we individually agree with her or not'. At the same time, the government – affiliated media was quick to defend Endre K., who was pardoned by President Novák on the pretext of the Pope's visit last spring. As deputy director of the Bicske children's home, Endre K. used blackmail to force several residents of the home to withdraw their testimony against the paedophile director who had sexually abused them.
For the past three years, the government and Fidesz have placed the fight against paedophiles and the protection of children at the centre of their agenda – conflating the issue with the LGBTQ community.
Besides the Prime Minister, several government politicians have previously stressed that there is no excuse for either paedophilia or for covering it up.
They have also used paedophilia in communication campaigns and as a political tool, sometimes even calling someone a paedophile without any proof.
"There is no excuse for acts of paedophilia, nor can there be any. Such acts must receive the most severe penalties, no matter how they are committed. If a child becomes a victim of a paedophile, it will ruin him or her for life" – wrote Máté Kocsis, leader of Fidesz' parliamentary group in May 2021 after it was revealed that the police had clamped down on a criminal organisation distributing child pornography. A year earlier, following the ruling in the case of Gábor Kaleta, (former Hungarian ambassador to Peru, whose laptop was found to contain thousands of pornographic materials depicting children) the group leader said "there is no forgiveness or understanding for paedophile crimes". Kocsis also called for stricter laws and argued that
those who have "directly or indirectly" committed such crimes should be deterred from repeating their acts.
Finally, after the case in 2021, Kocsis announced that they would be submitting an anti-pedophile legislative package, which would include a searchable "register of paedophiles". Another important point of the law was that in aggravated instances, i.e. if the victim is under 12, if the perpetrator is a public official (lex Gábor Kaleta), if the perpetrator has committed abuse or violence as a repeat offender, they could receive a penalty on the same scale as for murder or kidnapping.
The bill was tabled a few weeks later, but it was not long before the governing coalition quickly diverted the package from its original purpose with new proposals, thus turning the anti-pedophile law into an anti-gay law in no time. One by one, Fidesz kept submitting amendments to the original proposal, which, once incorporated, conflated the perpetrators of paedophile crimes with members of the LGBTQ community.
The hijacked law sparked outrage nationwide and even internationally. Seeing the mounting criticism, Viktor Orbán and the government started steering the whole issue towards the protection of children and families, arguing that the anti-gay passages were necessary because "children are not a private matter, the state has the right to limit who can say what to them in schools". Finally, in a bid to defend the whole proposal, Fidesz-KDNP staged a referendum on "child protection" at the same time as the 2022 elections, from which point the government has referred to the whole issue as "child protection".
Fidesz has made protecting children and fighting paedophiles the central theme of the 2022 election, conflating the issue with the LGBTQ community. Speaking in parliament in February last year, Fidesz MP Gabriella Selmeczi said that "we have already stated during the debates on the anti-pedophile bill that anyone who commits a pedophilic, sexual or any other crime against our children should expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law". Selmeczi also pointed out that everyone will be held responsible, even those who do not report a suspicious case, let alone those who cooperate:
“It is unacceptable for any member of the system responsible for protecting children, be it a teacher, a nurse, a paediatrician, or a school director, to turn a blind eye to such cases and not report them.”
– she said, and added: “We stand as one behind the goal set by the Prime Minister, namely, that Hungary should have the strictest child protection law in the world, and we will focus all our efforts on ensuring that this is achieved.”
Along with the governing parties, President Katalin Novák has identified protecting families, and children in particular, as one of her most important goals. However, in this case, the President has refused to provide a detailed explanation as to why she granted the pardon, arguing that the reasons for presidential pardons are not public. She described paedophilia as "the most disgusting, most serious crime", but did not say what she thought of those who are guilty of covering it up. Many, including the opposition parties, are struggling to understand how the pardon granted to Endre K. can be reconciled with the fight to protect children.
Fidesz has accused its political opponents of paedophilia before
Following the 2022 elections, the issue of child protection, and paedophilia in particular, once again came to the forefront of politics. The first case was when a teaching assistant was fired for talking on his TikTok channel about having sexual relations with a 15-year-old student. Even Viktor Orbán made a reference to the case in his annual evaluating speech in 2023. The Prime Minister said: "Let us be clear. There is no excuse for paedophilia. Children are sacred and must not be violated. And the job of adults is to protect children at all costs." So Orbán himself alluded to what several Fidesz politicians have said before: there is no excuse for any form of paedophilia.
Moreover, Fidesz and the media affiliated with it linked the case of the teaching assistant to the opposition mayor of Budapest's 8th district based on a photo. The district's Fidesz chapter shared an earlier social media post of the teaching assistant: the photo shows a person, who looks like a woman, with a blanked out face standing with András Pikó, the opposition mayor of the 8th district. According to the post, the photo was shared by the teaching assistant during the 2021 Pride parade. As the district's Fidesz chapter writes, it is a joint photo, which indicates that the man is an enthusiastic supporter of András Pikó. In his reaction, Pikó made it clear that he was outraged by the behaviour of the teaching assistant and had nothing to do with it. He noted that he was not the one who had previously granted an award to the teaching assistant, (who was working in the 8th district) but it was Máté Kocsis of Fidesz who was in charge of the municipality at the time.
Then, last summer, apropos of another case, they accused MP András Jámbor and the Szikra Movement of supporting paedophilia. The background to the affair is that Krisztina D., a member of the Movement, was arrested in connection with what's become known as the antifa case, following which pictures with paedophile content were found in her partner's apartment, on a laptop that was not hers. In the end, the police officially declared that Krisztina D. had nothing to do with the brutal attack. Someone unconnected to the Szikra Movement was summoned by the police in the case, but they committed suicide before the police could question them. At the time, the government media were abuzz with claims that the Szikra Movement and András Jámbor himself were paedophiles.
Judging by the present silence, it seems that Fidesz doesn't seem to be too bothered if the president elected by the governing parties pardons someone who had covered up paedophilia. But when it comes to accusing someone else of paedophilia, all they need is a conjectural story with hardly connectable threads.
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