Hungary Enacts Plans to Ban Gender Studies Courses, Tangles with Soros

October 17, 2018 Updated: October 17, 2018

The Hungarian government has carried out its plans to ban gender studies courses at universities, according to local reports.

Only two universities currently teach gender studies in Hungary, one of which was founded by George Soros—a billionaire financier of leftist causes and the arch-foe of Prime Minister Victor Orban’s highly conservative nationalist administration.

Orban’s government said in August that it would stop financing the courses after first mooting plans in July.

According to Hungarian media, the Hungarian Gazette quietly revealed on Oct. 12 that gender studies had been removed from teachers’ lists, and the accreditation of the degree had ceased.

Gender studies, as the name suggest, deals with a wide range of issues relating to gender. But it appears to be specifically the academic discipline’s position that gender is a social convention—rather than a biological reality—that the Hungarian government objects to.

The Soros-funded Central European University (CEU) said on Oct. 16 that it was a “major infringement on academic freedom and university autonomy.”

Soros is touted by Orban’s government as public enemy No. 1—as the puppeteer behind leftist influences that Orban says he wants to replace with traditional “Christian values.”

The Billionaire Behind the Progressives

The Hungarian government’s anti-Soros campaign forced his Open Society Foundations to leave the country earlier this year, after creating new rules on influence by foreign organizations.

Soros’s Open Society Foundations is based in the United States—it is the second largest grant-making group in the United States. He was a large contributor to the fund-raising Super PAC group backing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo)

Soros founded Hungary’s Central European University (CEU) in 1991, which has gone on to become one the countries top universities. It is based in Budapest, but originally accredited in New York State.

A change in Hungarian law last year over the registration of foreign-registered universities was widely seen as targeting Soros’s CEU.

The CEU is one of just two universities that teach gender studies in the country.

Announcing the plans to withdraw funding from gender studies courses back in August, Orban’s Chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said low enrollment numbers were reason enough to pull the funding.

‘A Mandate to Build a New Era’

But he did not shy away from the government’s ideological opposition.

“The Hungarian government is of the clear view that people are born either men or women.”

“They lead their lives the way they think best, but beyond this, the Hungarian state does not wish to spend public funds on education in this area,” he said, according to Reuters.

Gender studies departments are often criticized by cultural conservatives the world over as a hot-bed for neo-Marxist ideologies and for trying to overturn the traditional view that there are only two genders.

Orban’s supporters say that they want to end what they see as a dominance of leftists and liberals in the arts, science, and education.

Orban, who was re-elected in April to a third consecutive term, said in July that major cultural and intellectual changes were in the works, adding that his landslide victory was “nothing short of a mandate to build a new era.”

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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