Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently banned gender studies program, and Universities aren’t staying quiet about it.
The move has attracted much criticism from academia with many seeing it as another manifestation of Orban’s attack of democracy
Defending its decision, a government spokesman said: ‘The Government’s standpoint is that people are born either male or female and we do not consider it acceptable for us to talk about socially-constructed genders, rather than biological sexes.’
The decree was issued only last Friday which revoked accreditation and funding for gender studies program at the two universities that offer them.
The Budapest’s prestigious Central European University has said the government gave no explanation for removing accreditation for their gender studies Master’s and Ph.D. programs.
‘In solidarity with Hungarian colleagues, we oppose this latest infringement on academic autonomy in the country,’ said the university’s Department of Gender Studies in a statement.
‘In the face of political moves such as this recent decision that mischaracterizes and question the academic legitimacy of Gender Studies, we stress that the concept of gender, as a fundamental component of the human experience, has proven its importance in and across many areas of academic research.’
It’s noteworthy that Central Europeans University’s degrees are also accredited in the United States and so, the programs will continue to accept applicants. Therefore, the ban may actually not succeed.
Only last month, the European Parliament voted to punish Prime Minister Orban for cracking down on democratic institutions in Hungary, including academia and the press. Many feel this is a recent episode of attacks on democracy given the Prime Minister’s track record.
A statement released just before the gender studies ban by the Political Studies Association, an organization committed to social science research said the decree ‘calls into question the Hungarian government’s commitment to the principles of democracy which are the bedrock of European states.’
The Political Studies Association added, ‘Gender Studies is an integral part of understanding the complexities of social interaction, the impact of policy, the dynamics of the economy and the extent of abuse of personal and political power.’
The government has however assured Hungarian students currently studying the degrees that they will be allowed to complete them