Statement from the ESA President about banning 'Gender Studies' in Hungarian Universities

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

To: The Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Viktor Orbán!

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to you in my capacity as President of the European Sociological Association to ask you to re consider the banning of ‘Gender Studies’ in Universities in your country.

We have been informed that a government decree, enacted without previous consultation with the interested parties, has been sent out ordering the termination of the teaching of Gender Studies. We understand that those already enrolled at MS courses may finish their degree, but that no new students can enroll and no new courses can be developed.

Our understanding of the legal and actual autonomy of higher education in Europe means that such measures should not be taken. However, even if this action is legal according to Hungarian law it is nevertheless very difficult to understand why your government would take such a step. We see this as a major attack on all social sciences, as issues relating to gender form an integral part of these disciplines. The teaching of Gender Studies is not an ideological matter – gender divisions are a structural issue which produces social differences and inequalities – but one which any modern society would surely wish its citizens to understand both historically and in the current context. Universities are uniquely placed to enable young people to understand the complexities of the world they live in by exploring all sides of any given issue and debating matters relating to gender is no exception.

I sincerely hope that you will reconsider and that the Hungarian government will withdraw this decree in order to ensure that Universities in Hungary can continue to be places which teach the whole range of disciplines appropriate to a modern society in line with other countries in Europe.

With kind regards

Professor Sue Scott (FAcSS)

President of the European Sociological Association