Abstract: In this article, we connect illiberal populism in Hungary with the instrumentalizing of genderphobia through state policies starting from 2010. This became especially salient during the COVID-19 pandemic when a contentious state of emergency laws enabled the government’s ruling by decree. Analyzing relevant pieces of legislation and policy documents, we show how genderphobia became a fundamental feature of an expanding far-right agenda that has been playing out in practice since the System of National Cooperation was established in 2010. Genderphobia is the aversion to disrupting dominant gender and sexual hierarchies, by addressing and critically interrogating gendered differences and gender as a social construct. Genderphobia is both an ideology about the fearfulness of gender as well as the action of fear-mongering for political effect. State institutions are gendered and sexualized in that they have been structured on dominant gender and sexual norms that reinforce male and heterosexual dominance. We argue that genderphobia is evident in the rise of anti-LGBTIQ policies and contributes to the weakening of democratic and liberal institutions in Hungary. We will also present examples of the Hungarian government’s attempts to monopolize the definition of “the family” and hollow out the social representation of child protection. In addition, we will explore resistance against the recent anti-LGBTIQ policies through children’s literature. Our aim is to demonstrate how the Hungarian genderphobic policies ultimately deny not only LGBTIQ human rights but the existence of LGBTIQ youth and children who could benefit from social support as well as representation in education and literature.
Keywords: child protection; children’s literature; fear mongering; genderphobia; heteronormativity; Hungary; illiberalism; LGBTIQ; System of National Cooperation