Sziget Festival, which promotes gay acceptance and is expected to attract more than half a million people this year, and the Coca-Cola company that "strives for diversity, inclusion and equality" and is "a long-standing supporter of the LGBTQI community" have shaken things up with a pro-LGBTQ campaign in Hungary where a conservative government rules.
As Budapest prepares for Sziget Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in the world, not everyone is feeling joyous for the occasion. In conjunction with the music festival, themed Love Revolution, Coca-Cola released a city-wide campaign promoting the message "love is love." The advertisements include pictures of people smiling and holding bottles of Coca-Cola accompanied by the slogan "zero sugar, zero prejudice."
Yet, despite the innocuous nature of the campaign, senior members of Hungary's ruling conservative party, Fidesz, have called for a complete boycott of Coca-Cola products until all traces of the campaign are removed from the city.
The party, led by Viktor Orbán, opposes same-sex marriage and equal rights for same-sex couples. Although the party leader doesn't endorse the boycott, István Boldog, the party's deputy speaker initiated the boycott over what he called a "provocative" campaign. A translation of the petition reads,
"Until now, large companies in Hungary have not advertised with openly gay content and messages. Do not be illusory, this is a test. If Hungarian society accepts this, there will be more and more steps. Posters, commercials, films, rainbow products, etc. And as we continue to slide down the slope, it will be increasingly difficult to stop."
Unfortunately, this rhetoric isn't unique to the rights of same-sex couples and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Ever since Orbán and the Fidesz party won a third consecutive term since 2010, the country has become more autocratic and repressive. The government has shut down independent media organizations if they go against the government, and it forced the Central-European University to leave.
In essence, the government has taken over the free thoughts of the people and if this sounds familiar, it should, and it should scare you.
Moreover, this language is dangerous and provocative. Tamás Dombos, an advocate with the gay rights group, Háttér, says the government is acting in homophobic ways and is unaware of society's acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. Indeed, a 2017 poll by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association revealed that over 60% of Hungary's residents believe in equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Háttér, in a 2017 study found that 2/3 of Hungarians believe members of the LGBTQ+ community should live as they choose.
Despite growing acceptance, the conservative government is not willing to recognize this reality and continues to beat the drum of homophobia. Tamás Dombos is not alone in feeling that "the entire government propaganda is built on conflict, and they need enemies. After the EU, migrants, NGOs and even the homeless, now it may be LGBTQ people."