News (World)

Gay US ambassador denounces Hungary’s “machinery of fear” during Pride Month

Ambassador David Pressman, right, his husband and their two sons
Ambassador David Pressman, right, his husband and their two sons Photo: U.S. Embassy Hungary

The U.S. ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, stood up against far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán in a moving and personal speech about the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric he and the rest of the queer community is victim to.

Speaking at a Pride event at his residence in Budapest, Pressman said, “Fear is something those who seek to undermine democracy trade on, and their currency is too often you and your families.”

Pressman condemned Orbán’s government for negatively portraying those who speak out against it.

“What much of the democratic world saw as a cautionary tale, Hungary’s government seems to have embraced as a model,” he said, referring to Russia’s attacks on democratic norms. “Hungary created its own NGO ‘Foreign Funding’ Law. Its own ‘gay propaganda’ law. Its own so-called ‘Sovereignty Protection Office.’ And Hungary has wasted little time putting this machinery of fear to use.”

“When a popular musician or social media influencer urges the people of Hungary to vote, they are a pedophile or a pervert,” he said. “When political opposition leaders exhort citizens to support alternative policies, they are mentally unstable agents of a foreign power. When people stand with a war’s victims, they are the aggressors.”

“These attacks – whether legal, rhetorical, or reputational – erode the liberties of the Hungarian people, of the Hungarian soul. Whenever politicians anywhere seek to profit by twisting love into hate; integrity into depravity; those who stand up for peace as advocating for more war – we must pay attention.”

Pressman is a gay man and is raising two children with his partner in Hungary. It’s not the first time he has clashed with Prime Minister Orbán. On X in 2022, Orbán asked where his “good friend Donald Trump was” when he joined the platform. Pressman retorted, “Welcome to Twitter, @PM_ViktorOrban! While you look around for your friend, perhaps another friend to follow: the President of the United States, @POTUS… but as the Hungarian media might say: no pressure.”

Pressman pointed out that originally, he was going to give his speech in Hungary’s parliament building but he was prevented from doing so by a senior member of Orbán’s party.

“The speaker denied the parliamentarians’ request to host an event on human rights in parliament – a space that is meant to represent all Hungarians,” Pressman said.

Pressman shared an anecdote about a time when he was the victim of Hungary’s state-owned media perpetuating anti-gay sentiment.

“At a Pride march organized by Hungarians in Pécs last year, I walked alongside a friend, fellow ambassador, and fellow parent,” Pressman said.

“The cameras of the government-controlled media were trained on me – as they are right now – and filmed us as he introduced me to his five-year-old child. The news that evening reported on ‘spotting’ my interaction with this child and sinisterly described that I was seen ‘interacting with children.’ They didn’t need to finish the sentence – they let fear do the rest.”

Queer Hungarians face marginalization, both legally and socially. In 2021, a law banning LGBTQ+ material in schools or kids’ television was passed. Same-sex couples in Hungary are also not eligible for all of the same legal rights available to heterosexual ones.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Transmasculine reproductive healthcare is rarely talked about. Let’s change that.

Previous article

Pope Francis called out during a meeting for repeated use of anti-gay slurs

Next article