Letter Concerning Gender Studies in Hungary
Published August 30, 2018
Updated December 19, 2018 to include response
Dear Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Minister of Human Capacities Dr Miklós Kásler,
As professional organizations representing thousands of scholars of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies around the world, we are writing to express our alarm at legislation that would eliminate and effectively ban gender studies as a field of intellectual inquiry at Hungarian universities. The proposed law denying both financing and accreditation to programs in gender studies at the Central European University and Eötvös Loránd University represents a disavowal of academic freedom and a dangerous closing off of vitally important social scientific and humanistic research. The law is also an affront to gender studies researchers and teachers in every corner of the globe, including Hungary.
The study of gender and sexuality represents a critical area of legitimate research, and passage of the proposed law to remove gender studies from the Hungarian academy would violate the basic tenets of academic freedom that are the foundation of education in a democracy. We call upon you to consider the global reputation of Hungarian higher education and the social repercussions of such a regressive law. We urge you to reject the proposed legislation and to continue your Ministry’s support of the two reputable and accredited Masters programs in gender studies currently under threat, along with their respected scholars and students.
Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS)
Society for the Promotion of LGBTQ Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (Q*ASEEES)
cc: European University Association
European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics
Response from the Office of the Prime Minister
Dear Ms. Julie Cassiday, Ms. Elizabeth Hemenway and Mr. Kevin Moss,
Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister.
We are honoured to have received your opinion, since education policy is a strategically important policy area for the Government of Hungary.
In every Member State of the European Union, the right of accreditation of academic programmes falls exclusively within the competence of the state. We respect every opinion, but we also think that it is important for everyone to respect this sphere of competence belonging to the Member States.
In the future, no state-funded and accredited social gender studies programme will be launched in Hungary. However, I would like to assure you that such ongoing higher education programmes may continue for their full duration.
From our point of view, this decision in no way restricts the freedom of academic research, as the topic can continue to be researched to scientific standards within other academic fields and can also continue to be taught at universities which are operated by foundations.
Last but not least, let us once again express our appreciation for your opinions you have shared in relation to education policy.
State Secretary for Parliamentary Affairs