Orban Bans Gender Studies Courses in Hungary, Report Says

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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2016.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2016. Credit: Kacper Pempel/ REUTERS

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is pushing legislation to bar universities from offering courses in gender studies, Hungary Journal reported Friday.

According to the government, such courses are not economically viable as they take resources away from other academic fields and produce undesirable graduates for the Hungarian job market, the report said.

Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, one of the only institutions in the country to offer the classes in Hungarian, will take the largest hit. Lorinc Nacsa, Orban's coalition partner, described gender studies as a "wasteful luxury" and "destructive" in a letter to ELTE's rector last year, Hungarian Free Press reported.

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"We must raise awareness to the fact that these programs are doing nothing to lift up our nation. In fact, they are destroying the values-centered mode of thinking that is still present in the countries of Central Europe," Nacsa was quoted as writing.

Hungarian State Secretary Bence Rétvári has also questioned the legitimacy of the field, claiming that it is at odds with everything Fidesz's government stands for. 

Orban was recently reelected in an April election fought on a fiercely anti-immigration platform that demonized Jewish American billionaire George Soros and liberal NGOs he backs. Days before his reelection, Orban approved a draft education bill that critics said targeted a university founded by Soros.

The move prompted thousands to protest outside the Central European University's campus in Budapest, and drew swift criticism from the top U.S. diplomat in Budapest. The university's rector said the bill aimed to "send a chill through Hungarian higher education and eliminate one of the few remaining institutions in Hungary that can stand up to the government."