Skinny Guardian

7 December 2020, 18:23 (UTC), 402 words. Shaun Walker in Budapest.

Hungarian MP berates disgraced ex-MEP with a length of drainpipe

It is the drainpipe that launched a thousand memes: the escape route used by József Szájer, who has resigned as an MEP and member of Hungary’s ruling rightwing Fidesz party, as he attempted to flee the scene after Belgian police raided a gay orgy he was attending.

After surfacing in internet jokes and street art, it even made a cameo appearance in the Hungarian parliament on Monday, as the opposition MP Zoltán Varga brandished a length of drainpipe at Fidesz MPs during a parliamentary session.

“Look in the mirror … and if you are horrified at what you see and want to escape, I’ve brought you something familiar,” he said.

While Belgian police raided the party because it broke coronavirus regulations, Szájer’s involvement caused extra controversy because of the anti-LGBTQ+ policies of his government, headed by Viktor Orbán, the prime minister. Szájer had boasted of personally rewriting the constitution in 2011 to define marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

“You say ‘Family first’ – nice slogan. But you forget to mention that when the family is not there, you’re participating in orgies or visiting prostitutes,” said Varga, referring to both the Szájer episode and an incident last year when a top regional Fidesz politician resigned after a video emerged of him taking part in an orgy on a yacht.

The actual drainpipe involved has been memorialised with a makeshift plaque mounted by Hungarians living in Brussels, featuring an image of Szájer’s face and an inscription in both English and Hungarian. “The political career of József Szájer … ended here when he tried to flee the authorities using this gutter,” it read.

Steenstraat/Rue des Pierres
Police in the Brussels-Capital-Ixelles zone had to stop a sex party with 25 people present above a bar in Steenstraat/Rue des Pierres. Among those present was MEP József Szájer. Photograph: Isopix/Rex/Shutterstock

In Rome, a mural of Szájer has appeared, provocatively toasting him as Hungary’s “new gay icon”, apparently the work of the Italian street artist Laika. “I want a world where even Szájer can be free to live his sexuality the way he believes, without hiding from the eyes of his own party,” the artist wrote on Instagram.

For Orbán’s government, the episode has been no laughing matter, and came as the Hungarian prime minister threatens to veto the EU budget over plans to link some funds to a so-called rule-of-law mechanism.

Szájer admitted to attending “a house party” and apologised to his family, though he claimed the drugs had been planted on him. He has quit his job as an MEP and left Fidesz. Orbán said Szájer’s actions were “unacceptable and indefensible”.