Earlier in the week, an article on index.hu suggested that Hungary’s recent withdrawal to the 2020 contest was due in part to the contest being ‘too gay’. While the article cites anonymous sources, the comments have been widely circulated throughout the fandom, which has also grabbed the attention of UK media. The contest has a historic and long-held connection with the gay community.
Yesterday, The Guardian picked up the story, writing that ‘Hungary pulls out of Eurovision amid rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric‘. The piece contextualises Hungary’s withdrawal with the socio-political climate of Hungary, including a reported rise in anti-LGBT+ rhetoric.
However, these two articles have not gone unnoticed. Zoltán Kovács, Hungary’s Secretary of State for International Communication, has dismissed these claims. He describes the contents of the index.hu article as ‘fake news’. Taking to Twitter he writes:
In an official statement to The Guardian, Hungarian broadcaster MTVA has said:
Instead of taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020, we will support the valuable productions created by the talents of Hungarian pop music directly.MTVA (emphasis added)
Last month, we reported a similar sentiment and statement made by the broadcaster, as the A Dal rules outlined the contest would not be used for selecting a song for the contest.
Similarly, the EBU have also provided a statement quoted in The Guardian:
It is not uncommon for EBU members to have breaks in participation in the Eurovision song contest,” and pointed out that Hungary had been absent on previous occasions. However, since 2011, the country has entered every year.
We hope to welcome their broadcaster MTVA back to the Eurovision song contest family soonEBU Statement
This morning, Shuan Walker received a direct response from the Hungarian Public Service Media. The response attempts to further distance the broadcasters position with the suggestion withdrawal was on the basis of Eurovision being ‘too gay’:
LGBT+ presence in the Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision has a well-known and longstanding connection with the LGBT+ – or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans community. The contest colloquially ‘came out’ in 1998 with the victory of Dana International.
However, in the last decade or so, the contest’s relationship with representing LGBT+ and queer identities have become much more focused. Most obviously, Austria’s win in 2014 acted as a landmark moment for universal acceptance, inclusivity and celebration of difference, diversity and self-ownership: issues the contest has attempted to address with slogans.
Poignantly, Conchita’s speech upon winning heralded a landmark moment for not only gay rights, but all marginalised people across the continent:
This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are – we are unity and we are unstoppableConchita Wurst
However, despite the inspired words of the ‘bearded drag queen’, expressing gay and/or queer identities have still led to controversy. In Lisbon, the same-sex dancers depicting a gay couple as part of Ireland’s performance was censored by the Chinese broadcaster Mango TV. This led to a strong condemnation by the EBU and equal strong praise by Irish representative Ryan O’Shaughnessy:
On the 9th of May, Chinese broadcaster Mango TV broadcast the first Semi-Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest live but two performances were censored. This is not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music. It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.EBU
Hungary in the Eurovision Song Contest
Hungary first appeared at Eurovision back in 1994 with Friderika Bayer’s ”Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?” finishing in fourth place. So far, that is still Hungary’s best ever result at the contest.
In total, Hungary have taken part at the contest seventeen times. Ever since returning to the contest in 2011, they have managed to qualify for the Grand Final every year. Kati Wolf was internally-selected for Düsseldorf, the broadcaster invented A Dal as their new national final. Their best results in the A Dal era are a fifth place in 2014 with “Running” by András Kállay-Saunders and Joci Pápai’s “Origo” finishing in eight place in 2017. Coincidentally, both acts returned to the A Dal final in 2019.
In 2019, Joci tried to represent Hungary for a second time with “Az én apám”. However, he finished in 12th with 97 points. This marked the first Hungarian non-qualification since 2009.