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“Leave Our Kids Alone.” Child Protection, Sex Education, LGBT+ Rights and Anti-Gender Politics in Hungary

Monday, February 27, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its public seminar.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

Please keep in mind that external guests will not be able to enter the building without prior registration.

Controlling women’s, children’s and LGBT+ people’s sexuality has been part of exercising state power in different political regimes. In Hungary, the autocratization process, which started in 2010, has been accompanied by anti-gender rhetoric, and the implementation of anti-gender policy and legislative measures. In 2019 LGBT+ people and advocacy organizations became the target of government propaganda, constituting LGBT+ people as ‘the enemy’, from whom children should be protected. This chapter seeks to explore the intersections of autocratization and far-right populism, anti-gender movements, childhood sexuality and education policy, with the aim to map how anti-gender politics is deployed by an increasingly authoritarian political leadership in an attempt to control and regulate children and young people’s sexualities in Hungary. The chapter argues that children and the notion of the ‘innocent child to be protected’ are a central aspect of the workings of the anti-gender rhetoric in its restorative ideological project. Recent examples of homo- and transphobic school curricula, laws, government politicians’ public communications and media discourse are discussed, in order to demonstrate how exercising control over children and young people’s sexualities work via education contents; governmental communication about childhood and sexuality; and restricting children’s/youth’s access to information about sexuality.

The seminar starts with a 25-minute presentation of the research followed by the comments of the discussant. Then the floor will be open for participants to ask questions and discuss the research. To be able to actively take part in the discussion, please read the draft paper beforehand. The draft chapter is available upon request from the author.


Dorottya Rédai is a Research Affiliate at the CEU Democracy Institute. Her research interests include gender equality in education, sex education, the intersectional reproduction of social inequalities in education, anti-gender education politics in Central Eastern Europe and the politics of childhood. Her monograph Exploring Sexuality in Schools. The Intersectional Reproduction of Inequality was published in 2019 by Palgrave Macmillan. She has worked on several European projects on gender and sexuality in education. Besides her academic work, she works as an activist and trainer in Labrisz Lesbian Association in Hungary; she is the coordinator of the internationally renowned A Fairytale for Everyone book project. She received the Emma Goldman Snowball Award for her feminist academic and activist work in 2020. She was honored as one of the 100 most influential people of 2021 by TIME Magazine for her pioneering work with the fairytale book.


Andrea Krizsán is a Senior Research Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute and a Professor at the Department of Public Policy and the Gender Studies Department. She is interested in understanding policy changes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Andrea works on different equality policy fields including policies on gender equality and gender-based violence as well as policies addressing ethnic inequalities, and intersectionality. Her current research analyzes the politics of policy backsliding and civil resistance in times of crisis and illiberal democracy. Her most recent book with Conny Roggeband is on the opposition to the Istanbul Convention and its consequences (Palgrave 2021). She co-edited with Abels, MacRae and van den Vleuten the Routledge Handbook on Politics and Gender published in March 2021. She is the recipient of the inaugural Emma Goldman Award for her substantial contributions to the study of feminist and inequality issues in Europe.


Vera Messing is a Research Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute as well as a senior research associate of Center for Social Sciences. She earned her PhD in Sociology at Budapest Corvinus University in 2000. Her work focuses on comparative understanding of different forms and intersections of social inequalities and ethnicity and their consequences. She is specifically interested in policy and civil responses to ethnic diversity in the field of education and labour market;  migration and migrant integration; attitudes towards racialized minorities and immigrants; media representation of racialized groups and conflicts; social science methodology and measurement of social phenomena. She has been involved in the coordination and research activities for several European comparative research projects in the above topical fields (FP7, H2020) and she is also the lead researcher of the Hungarian team of the European Social Survey, ERIC. She has widely published in academic journals and books.