Member of the Slovakian party OĽaNO, György Gyimesi wants to ban the display of rainbow flags in public offices. According to the politician, it is not fair that the rainbow flag is displayed, while minorities, such as Hungarians, have no such rights.
György Gyimesi of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party (OĽaNO) posted a video on his Facebook page, saying: “MPs outbid each other to defend the gay community, but the Hungarian flag is considered an offense to display in our country.”
The Slovakian politician of Hungarian nationality added:
Like it or not, Slovakia is European enough to speak out on behalf of gay people, but at the same time, it maintains taboos on Hungarian issues.”
Gyimesi also said that “For years we have been hearing that there is no political will in Hungarian affairs. Hiding behind this […] they banned the Hungarian flag from sporting events.” According to him, 20% of the country’s population is made up of other nationalities.
Out of the ethnic groups in Slovakia, Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority – 8.5 percent according to minorityrights.org
– and are concentrated in the southern and eastern regions of the country. Other ethnic groups include
Roma, Czechs, Croatians, Rusyns, Ukrainians, Germans, Poles, Gorals, Serbians, and Jews.
The politician also gave an example regarding the Ukrainian war: “With the flood of Ukrainian refugees, we know that in a few days we were able to produce banners with Ukrainian lettering and put them on the walls of offices and public buildings,” while “it takes 25 years to see the signs Perbenyik, Dunaszerdahely, or Komárom in Hungarian at the railway station.”
Gyimesi also mentioned in the video that the Beneš decrees are still in effect.
He referred to the series of laws issued
by then-President of Czechoslovakia, Edvard Beneš, concerning the status of ethnic Germans, Hungarians, and others in post-war Czechoslovakia, and represented the former country’s legal framework for the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia. As a result, almost all ethnic Germans and Hungarians whose ancestors had lived in the country for centuries prior to World War II, or those who had settled there during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, lost their citizenship and property, and were then expelled from their homes. The decrees remain politically controversial in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Indeed, they were never repealed and are still used to confiscate property from Hungarians in Slovakia on the grounds that their ancestors should have lost their property.
Gyimesi, who avoided the usual Coalition process of discussing such matters, saying “there was no time,” does not plan to withdraw the draft law, despite the fact that the proposal has divided the leaders of his own party.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger says it should be revoked, while the former prime minister and current finance minister, Igor Matovič, supports it. He said that using public offices to promote any sexual ideology is against the public interest. Monika Kozelová, a National Council member from OĽaNO, and Andrej Stančík, one of the more liberal MPs from the party, were not happy about Gyimesi not informing them, Euractiv reports. “It was surprising to us that he tabled it. We are all angry,” said Kozelová.
He did not discuss it with anyone, and it took us all by surprise,”
Matovič told Újszó:
We must defend statehood. We should only display the symbols of the state and the European Union on public buildings.”
He added that the municipal offices could also display the coat of arms and flags of the respective municipalities. However, he ruled out the possibility of other symbols being placed on public buildings, including the Szekler flag: “Publicly, in plain sight, where everyone in the village or town can see it, I think only state symbols should be displayed.” According to him, inside the buildings, in a “not so visible place” or during an official visit by a Hungarian civil servant, there would be no problem with the flags.
Juraj Seliga of the liberal party For the People said,
I am happy to live in a country where anyone can protest for anything and display any flag or symbol.”
Freedom of expression should be encouraged in people and institutions as long as these opinions do not threaten democracy, Seliga added.
Gyimesi and Tomáš Taraba, a member of the National Council, propose that state authorities and schools should be prohibited from placing “symbols of movements, organizations, communities, and ideologies promoting any kind of sexual orientation” on or in buildings. Violation of the law would be punishable by a fine of up to €7,000.
There is no information about how many rainbow flags (or Szekler, or other flags representing minorities) are currently displayed on buildings of public offices, outside or inside. There is also no information on who to contact in case someone wants to complain about the presence of a particular flag.
Featured image via György Gyimesi’s Facebook page