Actor Márk Lakatos: T-shirt campaign for LGBTQ* rights in in Hungary
Foto: Attila Udvardy / index.hu
The well-known Hungarian actor Márk Lakatos has launched his own t-shirt collection ,,Adult Content" and wants to make a political statement for the acceptance and visibility of queer people in Hungary. The background is the anti-LGBTQ*
law passed by the Hungarian parliament under Viktor Orbán in June 2021. It prohibits the dissemination of information about queer issues to people under 18. Márk is the creative director of the Hungarian magazine "Instyle" and wants to use fashion to actively resist Hungary's anti-LGBTQ* policies politically. A conversation about the visibility of queer people and why LGBTQ* became a political power tool in Hungary.
Márk, how did you get the idea for the 'Adult Content' campaign?
The background of the campaign was the introduction of the anti-LGBTQ* law in Hungary last summer. That's why I had the idea to label us as "adult content". Instead of excluding people and making them invisible, we should rather focus on education. Together with many prominent supporters we want to set a clear sign for more visibility and show that LGBTQ* in Hungary do not have to hide. Also some Infulencer*innen and actors*innen from Germany made attentive on the action. The proceeds of the sold T-shirts will be donated to the leading Hungarian LGBTQ* organization ,,Hatter Society". Fashion has historically been an important tool for activism. The controversial ads of the brand "Benneton" in the early 1990s about LGBTQ* rights and HIV/AIDS were, in my opinion, groundbreaking for the fashion industry.
We had half a million likes on TikTok and sold thousands of t-shirts in a few days.
This law that restricts our rights is called the "Child Protection Act" in Hungary. the LGBTQ movement is said to be a propaganda controlled from abroad to weaken Hungary. Homosexuality is deliberately associated with pedophilia.
Márk Lakatos, Foto: Attila Udvardy / index.hu
What does it mean for you to live as an openly gay man in Hungary?
Have you experienced hostility yourself?
I am a public figure, so it is normal to face hostility and criticism from time to time. I would say that Hungary is very divided right now when it comes to the acceptance of queer people. A part of the people in Hungary is very liberal and open. The other part is very traditional, religious and politically right-wing.
The introduction and controversial discussion of the anti-LGBTQ* law has led to a significant increase in hatred and aggression towards queer people in Hungary in the media and on social media in the last six months.
Is there a difference between cities like Budapest and rural communities?
Yes, it is a very big difference. Budapest is an international and very liberal city. There is also a big Pride here every year. In rural areas it is very different. The problem is that some people in the countryside are very poor and have a poor education. They only get information from the state media, which tries to manipulate people through disinformation and agitation against LGBTQ* people. They equate homosexuality with pedophilia, whereas most pedophiles are heterosexuals. Surveys in Budapest, on the other hand, show that people are very open to LGBTQ*.
Thousands of people demonstrate for equal rights at the annual Budapest Pride, Photo: Budapest Pride
In Poland, the Catholic Church also plays a big role in the anti-LGBTQ movement. What is the situation in Hungary?
In Hungary, the situation is a bit different from the one in Poland. The Church here is much more reserved and does not comment much on LGBTQ* issues. However, the majority of churches support Victor Orban's course.
Should the EU do more against Viktor Orbán's anti-LGBTQ* course?
I think that the LGBTQ* community in Europe should do more. But the EU also has a role to play. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights states that no one may be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. Hungary is an EU country and has committed itself to these values, so it must also abide by them. The EU has to ensure that people's rights are respected in the member states.
You can find my interview about the current situation of LGBTQ* in Hungary on Spotify.
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