People in powerful positions in governments all across the world are placed in those positions to protect the ideals and the needs of the people–all the people. We trust our leaders to be honest. So what happens when the hypocrisy of powerful men becomes public? How does that affect not only the present but the future as well?
Jozsef Szajer, the Hungarian MEP, resigned his position after he was caught fleeing what was described as a gay orgy. The incident would probably have remained a topic of gossip in the Brussels and a national story in Hungary were it not for the details of the career of the man concerned.
Szajer, a staunch ally of right-wing nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán, famously drafted Hungary’s new constitution on his iPad – a reactionary document that vowed to protect “the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman” and “the family as the basis of the survival of the nation”.
The constitution became the basis for laws eroding the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people and was the background to a culture war crusade against anything identified as “too gay”, with targets ranging from a children’s book and a Coca Cola advert to Eurovision.
What could have been a minor political scandal has now blown up into a spotlight search of the hypocrisy of powerful men.
Jozsef Szajer isn’t the only one, in the US in the early 2000s, two members of the Republican Party, Larry Craig and Mark Foley were caught in homosexual sex scandals after they had made their views about being against equal marriage very clear.
Mark Foley was caught sending sexually suggestive instant messages to teenage boys who had formerly served as congressional pages in 2006. In the following year, Larry Craig was arrested for “lewd conduct” in a men’s public bathroom.
Foley and Craig aren’t the only members of the US Republican Party to have claimed to be ‘anti-gay’ only to have been caught later having relationships with other men, there are at least 20 men to date who have had scandals such as these.
But the main question is why does this keep happening? Especially now when society has never been more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community?
Perhaps it’s a generational thing. The pattern of all these men is that they are above a certain age meaning they were raised in a time where no one spoke about being gay and if people did it was called ‘unnatural’. Despite the inclusion and acceptance of today, many people of the Boomer and Gen X eras still feel repressed and that they are ‘too old’ to come out.
Another reason could be the history of violence against the LGBTQ+ community and the lack of role models. Again, this go back to how these men were raised, they had no one like them to look up to and if they did it was a very small group of people.
Now, this doesn’t excuse their behaviour towards the LGBTQ+ community, and how they’ve used (or should I say abused) their power. But it’s important to recognize the mistakes of the past to ensure the progress of the future.
Fortunately, the younger generations of Millennials and Gen Z are more open-minded and more sex-positive than those who came before them. They are empathetic that these hypocritical men didn’t do anything wrong by having a mutually consensual relationship with other men, but they were wrong for trying to oppress other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The mistakes of the past and present are important to learn so the next generation of leaders can positively influence our future. So when we elect people into powerful positions in governments all across the world, we can be certain that they will protect the ideals and the needs of the people–all the people.
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