A little party never hurt nobody ?
This weekly broadcast series presents the European news from different angles and perspectives. Which events and developments have made the news, and how? Each week we take a closer look at one event that dominated this week’s news, and quickly discuss other topics that grabbed the headlines in various countries across the continent.
On Sunday November 29, Hungarian media paid attention to the ‘sudden resignation’ of Hungarian MEP József Szájer, leader of the Fidesz delegation. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Belgian newspaper la Dernière Heure first reported on the police intervention of a so-called ‘lockdown gay orgy’, attended by 25 men including various diplomats and one MEP. It was only a matter of hours before Szájer’s name was circulating in the media. Why did this news go viral in all countries across the bloc?
You'll find the script below:
It was the last Saturday of November, and Belgium was still in deep lockdown, when the police stormed a private ‘lockdown sex-party’ in Brussels centre. A few days later, this small private party turned into a huge scandal when Belgian media suggested one Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and several diplomats were involved.
How did this happen? Who is this mysterious Member of the European Parliament (MEP)?
On Sunday November 29, Hungarian media paid attention to the ‘sudden resignation’ of Hungarian MEP József Szájer, leader of the Fidesz delegation. The newspapers cited Szájer himself who said his decision was based on a ‘long-term reflection’ referring to the ‘mental strain put on him by the daily political struggle’. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Belgian newspaper la Dernière Heure first reported on the police intervention of a so-called ‘lockdown gay orgy’, attended by 25 men including various diplomats and one MEP, who recently resigned. It was only a matter of hours before newspapers connected the dots and József Szájer’s name was circulating. Allegations were confirmed by a press release of the public prosecutor's office in Brussels, that stated that the man that was trying to flee down the gutter when the police came in was identified as S.J.(1961). The news went viral in all countries across the bloc.
Why did Szájer’s misconduct receive so much attention, besides the fact that he was breaking lockdown rules in Belgium?
His behaviour was also picked up because Szájer, one of the founders of Hungary’s very conservative Fidesz party, previously boasted that he personally drafted changes to the Hungarian constitution that defined marriage as being a union between man and women, writes the Guardian. Dutch newspaper NRC writes the Fidezs party has only recently used the Corona crisis to further restrict the rights of the LGBT community. Spanish newspaper Eldiario writes Fidesz is trying to ban adoption for homosexual couples. Last May the Hungarian government also passed a bill to make it impossible to incorporate the gender changes into official documents, according to Hungarian media.
Victor Orban also personally responded to the incident via Twitter, stating “What he [Szájer] did has no place within the values of our political family. His deed is unacceptable and indefensible”.
How will this event fit within the wider discussion on the EU budget approval and the rule of law?
Poland and Hungary’s conservative Fidesz party are currently still threatening to veto the Union’s long-term budget and Coronavirus recovery fund. According to Politico, in an attempt to shield themselves from seeing payments linked to respect for the rule of law. The European Commission is now considering to create a recovery fund excluding the countries that are not in favour of the rule of law conditionality, Spanish newspaper El País wrote, just a day after the incident. Hungarian newspaper Magyar Hírlap cited Imre Boros, who said the rule of law complaints against Hungary are ungrounded.
Moving to events that made the news across Europe, what made the news in Spain?
The opening of the 'pandemic hospital' in Madrid, as the Spanish press has called it, has been one of the most prominent issues in the newspapers. It is not very clear whether the health workers who will be working there will come from other hospitals or will be professionals hired ex profeso. Furthermore, for the time being the hospital will operate at a quarter of its capacity so many are calling it more a public relations exercise. On the other hand, the assassination of the father of Iran's nuclear programme has opened newspapers as La Vanguardia or El País under the fear of an escalation of tensions with Israel.
And how about Germany ?
Of course, the car hitting various people in a pedestrian zone in Trier on Tuesday dominated the German headlines this week. The perpetrator had randomly run over people with an SUV, leaving five dead and several severely wounded. Der Spiegel described the event on Wednesday morning as an amok drive rampage. According der Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the motive of the perpetrator is still unclear. Angela Merkel expressed her sympathy with the victims on Twitter: "The news from Trier makes me very sad. I am also thinking of those who have been seriously injured and wish them much strength'. International events that made the German news were the latest news around the brokered peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, shocking stories of Ethiopian refugees and vaccine related matters.
Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen
crédits photo: cottonbro