A close ally of Hungary’s conservative leader Viktor Orban was caught by Brussels police in a lockdown-busting gathering described by Belgian media as a sex party.
Jozsef Szajer, a veteran Hungarian MEP, resigned from the European parliament at the weekend before apologising on Tuesday for breaching Covid-19 restrictions by attending the all-male party last week. The married politician, a pillar of Mr Orban’s nationalistic party Fidesz, helped draft a constitution widely seen as hostile to LGBT rights.
It is the third high-profile resignation in 18 months of senior Fidesz figures, just as Mr Orban is engaged in a dispute with Brussels over the EU’s €1.8tn budget and recovery fund. The Hungarian leader and his Polish counterpart are threatening to veto the budget because they oppose a plan to tie the release of EU recovery funds to the rule of law.
Mr Szajer on Tuesday said he had been present at a Brussels party on Friday night where — according to a statement on Tuesday by the city prosecutor’s office — 20 men were caught and fined €250 each. The Belgian prosecutor added that a man had been spotted escaping via a gutter and had later been found by police with bloody hands and drugs in his backpack.
Mr Szajer said in a statement that he disclosed his MEP status to police, who issued him with an official verbal warning and transported him home. He added that the drugs — which he said had been a single ecstasy tablet — did not belong to him.
“I deeply regret violating the Covid restrictions. It was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to stand for the fine that occurs,” Mr Szajer said. The FT could not immediately reach him for comment on the local media reports of the nature of the party.
The Fidesz caucus in the European People’s party — the mainstream centre-right group that also includes the Christian Democrats of Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor — said Mr Szajer made the “only right decision” when he resigned as an MEP. Before his resignation, Mr Szajer had been a vice-chair and chief whip of the EPP.
Mr Szajer, a founding member of Fidesz more than three decades ago, has said he drafted much of Hungary’s existing constitution on his iPad on the train between the European parliament’s twin bases in Brussels and Strasbourg. That document, implemented after Mr Orban returned to power in 2010, contains provisions including defining marriage as an institution “between a man and a woman”. The family, the constitution reads, is “the basis of national survival.” Last month, the government proposed to amend the constitution to state that the “basis for family relations is marriage” and “the mother is a woman, the father is a man.”
Fidesz uses conservative Christian rhetoric and Laszlo Kover, the speaker of parliament, has compared homosexuality to paedophilia. In spring, the government made it illegal for people to change their birth gender.
This story was amended to clarify that “the mother is woman, the father is a man” is a constitutional provision that has yet to be adopted.
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