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Homophobic cultural commissioner wrapped on the knuckles

May 27th, 2013

After a stormy reaction on the left to a rude homophobic remark made by special government commissioner Imre Kerényi, the leading right-wing daily runs a short editorial on its website repudiating both his words and his person in no uncertain terms, giving rise to speculation that “open season has been opened on Kerényi”.

Imre Kerényi, originally a successful theatre director, was appointed by PM Viktor Orbán two years ago as “special commissioner responsible for encouraging legal thinking and the national cultural heritage.”  His main task was popularising the new constitution. His initiatives as well as his person have often been ridiculed on the left and by the liberal press, but have so far been defended by the Prime Minister. At a recent meeting, Kerényi declared that the new director of the National Theatre (see BudaPost November 23rd, 2012) could be expected to create a successful theatre focusing not on “faggots” but on true and faithful love and friendship. The Hungarian Theatre Association, the Hungarian Film and Theatre Academy and other organizations strongly criticised the remark after a video of the meeting began to circulate last week. Two days later Attila Vidnyánszky, the new director of the National Theatre who was present at the meeting, apologised for not objecting at the time (although he shook his head in disapproval). Róbert Alföldi, the former director, has been attacked by several right-wing politicians and organizations since the elections. The Magyar Nemzet attack on Kerényi is seen by many as a sign that commissioner has lost the Prime Minister’s support.

In Magyar Nemzet, editor-in-chief Gábor Élő comments in a short editorial entitled “Nine sentences on Kerényi” that “Kerényi has smeared excrement from his mouth all over national heroes and symbols, as well as both on what he has done so far and on what he may do in the future.” One does not have to be either Christian or Conservative, Élő writes, it should be enough to be human and pay some attention to the dignity of others.

In an obituary-style article in Népszava, Krisztina Ferenczi – an actress turned investigative journalist – remembers Kerényi as a brilliant director who, she claims, “was killed by the new Kerényi,” – a buffoon, hunting for political privilege, positions and money. She describes Kerényi as a resentful man, sinking ever lower, ”spreading outright stupidity”, while fighting for the ambitions of “his political boss”.

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