Rétvári: Gender studies is not a science and goes against natural human existence

March 17, 2017

MTI Photo: Honéczy Barnabás

Gender studies go against traditional values, and it is questionable whether it is a science at all or just an ideology of the liberal political movement, said Christian Democrats (KDNP) MP and Ministry of Human Resources undersecretary Bence Rétvári in an interview for ATV’s Start program last week.

“[Gender studies] deny what we think about natural human existence,” Rétvári said, explaining why his ministry is so opposed to the planned formation of a gender studies degree program at Budapest’s Eötvös Lóránd Science University (ELTE). Rétvári acknowledged that male and female gender roles exist but argued that the gender studies program will not improve the competitiveness nor the economic stability of the university.

“The pay gap between men and women will not disappear just because we raise boys as girls and girls as boys,” he said.

When confronted with misogynistic quotes from Fidesz and KDNP MPs, he stated that “whenever an MP said anything insulting [to a female MP], he apologized within a week”.

Rétvári boasted that the Fidesz-KDNP government was the first in 27 years to add domestic violence to the penal code, but neglected to mention that NGOs and opposition parties had pressed the government hard to do so in the wake of a controversy surrounding Fidesz MP and mayor József Balogh, who broke his then-domestic partner’s nose and claimed that she had tripped over his blind dog and this caused the injury.

Bence Rétvári

When asked about the gender pay gap, Rétvári argued that “this is not a governmental problem but a social one” and the size of the pay gap in Hungary is close to the Central European average. (We reported earlier, however, that Hungary’s gender-based pay gap among managers is the worst in Europe.) He said the ruling coalition had made major steps to improve women’s conditions that had been awaited for the last 20 years.

“You cannot name another government that has done as much for women as the current one,” he concluded.

Co-ruling KDNP attacked the Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Lóránd Science University in an open letter in February after the faculty announced the launch of a gender studies degree program. Among other criticisms, the letter said, “you, the leadership of the university, decided to deal with a marginal topic that is disguised as science, suffocated by political correctness and has no benefits for Hungarian society”.

Soon after ELTE’s announcement,  Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog announced that the Corvinus University of Budapest – whose rector András Lánczi is a close aide of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – will launch a family sciences degree program. The exact details of the counter-program have yet to be disclosed.