Hungarian MEP József Szájer admits he was among those arrested at party in Brussels

The incident happened at the weekend when police raided a bar in the centre of the city, well known locally as a gay area.
József Szájer

By Martin Banks and Lorna Hutchinson

Martin Banks is a Senior Reporter at The Parliament Magazine and Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor at The Parliament Magazine

01 Dec 2020

There is widespread speculation on social media that the gathering was a “sex party” which took place on Friday on Rue des Pierres in central Brussels, close to a police station and close to the Grand Place.

The party took place on the first floor of a building, above a café, and drugs were reportedly found at the scene. After the incident, 25 men were questioned by police but it is understood that no one has been formally charged yet.

Szájer, a member of the Fidesz party, has now resigned, issuing a statement in which he says he “deeply regrets” the incident which he calls a “mis-step.”

Fidesz is the right-wing nationalist party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The MEP was party leader in the Hungarian Parliament from 1994 to 2002.

The married 59-year-old is said to have tried to escape from the scene by climbing through a window. He was apprehended by police soon afterwards.

On Tuesday, he made a statement to this website which reads, “The news reported in the Belgian press is about a private party in Brussels on Friday. I was present. After the police asked for my identity - since I did not have ID on me - I declared that I was a MEP. The police continued the process and finally issued an official verbal warning and transported me home.”

“I did not use drugs. I offered the police to make an instant test, but they did not do it. According to the police they found Ecstasy pill, but it is not mine and I have no knowledge who and how it placed.”

“I apologise to my family, to my colleagues, to my voters. I ask them to evaluate my mis-step on the background of 30 years of devoted and hard work. The mis-step is strictly personal, I am the only who owes responsibility for it”

József Szájer

Szájer said, “I deeply regret violating the COVID restrictions, it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to stand for the fine. With my resignation on Sunday I drew the political and personal conclusions.”

He went on, “I apologise to my family, to my colleagues, to my voters. I ask them to evaluate my mis-step on the background of 30 years of devoted and hard work. The mis-step is strictly personal, I am the only who owes responsibility for it. I ask everyone not to extend it to my homeland, or to my political community.”

It is believed some of the other men involved were diplomats posted to Brussels and the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, has been informed.

A Brussels police spokesman said: “I can confirm that about 20 people were fined for failure to comply with health measures following an evening party organised on Friday evening on the first floor of a building in the centre of Brussels. The procedure is ongoing.”

Brussels and large parts of Belgium are currently under a 10pm to 6am curfew, and all bars and restaurants have been ordered to shut until mid-January.

Fidesz is a member of the EPP group in Parliament. Fidesz openly opposes equal rights for LGBT people. For example, Hungary made it impossible in May to have gender changes in official documents adjusted.

The Hungarian government also wants to prohibit adoption for gay couples. A Fidesz statement said it was “saddened” by Szájer’s resignation, adding that his “uncompromising representation of Hungary’s sovereignty and the interest of Hungarian citizens are values that will continue to serve as the basic principles of our delegation.”

“The news reported in the Belgian press is about a private party in Brussels on Friday. I was present. After the police asked for my identity - since I did not have ID on me - I declared that I was a MEP” József Szájer

On Tuesday, an EPP spokesman told The Parliament magazine, “I do not have any information regarding the incident nor of the involvement of any EPP group MEPs.”

He added, “Szájer announced he is resigning from the Parliament on 1 January but he will continue in public life back in Hungary.”

Luxembourg EPP deputy Christophe Hansen described the alleged offence as “shameful” and, apparently unaware that he had already quit, called on the MEP to resign, adding that “such behaviour is unbecoming” of someone “in such an important position.”

Spanish S&D member Mónica Silvana González said, “One day he [Szájer] voted against defending LGTBI rights and another day he participated in an orgy with 24 men; this is the double standard of the right!”

Fellow Spanish S&D deputy Nicolás González Casares echoed these sentiments, saying, “What worries me the least about the Hungarian MEP that resigned are his sexual practices ... but it seems monstrous that he supports the persecution and repression of LGTBI freedoms in his country.”

Belgian ECR member Assita Kanko, in a tweet, said that the MEP who was present at the party “must be punished.” She added, “Some people never learn. Terribly inappropriate.”

German Greens/EFA deputy Rasmus Andresen said on Twitter, “Not important: Fidesz member joining gay sex party in Brussels. Really important: LGBTI are discriminated by Viktor Orbán and his government. The EU needs to do more to protect the rights of Hungarian LGBTI.”

Fellow Greens MEP Terry Reintke tweeted, “This whole narrative about 'defending family values' by the far right does not need any Fidesz sex stories to be exposed as utter bullshit. These people don’t care about families or values. All they care about is their own power - and having control over other people.”

Czech EPP deputy Tomáš Zdechovský called Szájer “one of the hardest working and most educated deputies.”

“I always respected him immensely. That is why I understand his decision to resign. Dear József, none of us will condemn you because we were not wearing your shoes. I wish you all the best.”

Fellow EPP Group deputy Aušra Maldeikienė, however, said, “If you want the world to know you're a total hypocrite, try being a Fidesz MEP and then getting caught running away from an all-male orgy that was raided by the police for breaking quarantine rules. With drugs in your bag. Even Shakespeare couldn't make this stuff up!”

On Tuesday, a Parliament spokesman told this website, “We have no confirmation of the allegations or any information related to an MEP.”

He added, “The standards of conduct established by the Parliament relate to the conduct during parliamentary activities - not personal life. Would the fact be established and be punishable by the local, national authorities, it is to these authorities to decide on the possible sanctions.”

MEPs do not have immunity when found committing a criminal act.

On Sunday, Szájer issued a statement after he resigned which reads, “I have submitted my resignation to David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament. My resignation as member of this Parliament is effective on the 31st of December 2020.”

“My decision comes as a result of a long period of reflection. The resignation has nothing to do with the current, animated policy debate taking place on the European level. In the ongoing debates, I agree with the government’s position and fully support it. The strenuous give-and-take of participating daily in the political struggle has become an ever-greater burden, and those who are on the battlefield must be fit for combat. I have been serving Hungary as an elected politician for thirty years.”

The statement ended, “Going forward, in the place of everyday politics, I intend to continue my public life and the work that I began during the regime change in a more long-term, intellectual field. I hope to carry out my new tasks with the same commitment and determination. I will provide further information on the specifics at a later date.”

Categories

EU Institutions
Share this page