The communist era and the slowly changing social climate (1948 - 1989)

Author: Queer Memory — 16.3. 2021 — Share on Facebook / Copy link

1948. Communist coup in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

1950. Despite their promises, the Communists kept the more-than-seventy-year-old § 241 in force. Homosexuality remained a criminal offense.

In 1950, a new criminal law is passed, reducing the penalty rates for same-sex intercourse, but retaining its general criminality. It was expected that Communists would repeal this paragraph since they have supported the idea of decriminalising homosexuality during the interwar period.

In Hungary, homosexuality is perceived not only as a crime against morality, but also as a crime against the socialist establishment. This suggests that the solutions chosen by Communists at this time in both Czechoslovakia and Hungary were inspired by the approach toward homosexuality in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

Természet elleni fajtalanság (Crime against nature).

1961. Both Czechoslovakia and Hungary are finally abolishing the universal criminality of homosexuality, but the society still remains judgemental and excludes otherness.

At the end of the 1950s, activists advocated for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in both Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In Hungary, the medical and neurological authorities made a significant contribution toward the process of decriminalisation. In Czechoslovakia, the sexologists supported the proposal to decriminalise homosexuality and prepared an expert paper for the legal commission that decided to decriminalise it. In 1961, homosexuality was decriminalised in both countries, although the process was still not complete.

Prejudice and exclusion of otherness were still palpable in the collective consciousness, and even after 1961, people often did not reflect that homosexuality was no longer a criminal offense. Homosexuals have often led two parallel lives - a conforming one (for many in heterosexual marriages) and a secret one, in which they fulfilled their needs in secret relationships and in anonymous, often indecent places. It was still possible to blackmail these people and get them to cooperate with the state police.

1982. In Hungary, the first movie portraying a love story between two women is shot. "Egymásra nézve" (Another Way) opens up a public debate.

The majority of the population still learns about homosexuality from news reports that mostly evoke feelings of outrage and resentment. For the most part, these stories concern homosexual men, depicting them as a danger to "traditional" gender relations. We know much less about the lives, desires and loves of female couples. What is even more unique is that the first "minority" film in Eastern Europe showed the love of two women rather than that of two men. The film provoked a huge public debate, with some women even marking their advertisements in dating sections with the code "egymásra nézve" so that other women could easily identify their potential loves or friends.

Egymásra nézve (Another Way) - the first homosexual film in Eastern Europe showing love between two women.

1988. The first Hungarian gay and lesbian organization, Homeros Lambda, was formed due to the state's fear of the spread of the HIV virus.

The first Hungarian organisation for gays and lesbians, Homeros Lambda, was founded during the socialist era. The state authorized the establishment of this organization in response to the spread of HIV / AIDS and in order to control the homosexual community. Ultimately, people with the same sexual orientation were able to gather, and this created better conditions for a greater social involvement of gays and lesbians.

It soon became clear that men determined the direction of the organisation and its interests, particularly the content of the first gay magazine Mások (1989). Hungarian lesbian activists therefore later established their own organisations. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a similar process followed.

1989. The fall of communism in Czechoslovakia and Hungary opens the door to foreign influences.

The fall of the communist regime sparked revolutionary changes for homosexual citizens of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The opening of the borders, the opportunity to travel and the opportunity to become freely inspired by foreign impulses also meant that homosexual men began to identify with the term "gay", which did not have a medical connotation.

Author: Queer Memory
Published at: 16.3. 2021

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