I have been waiting for it for a while. We get the bus home from school and nursery a few times a week and a couple have raised the kids interest. Two high school students part company at the Bus Station and they fondly kiss each other goodbye. The question was finally asked at the weekend "mummy, is that a boy or a girl?" I
chose to avoid the question. The couple are both girls. I will probably have the conversation soon. I think that these girls are very brave. Hungary is years behind even the UK in such matters. The last government was going to introduce civil partnership for same sex couples, alas not something the present incumbents would touch with a
The expected question did not come this week but I was surprised and disheartened that another kind of prejudice had crept onto the bus. Some slightly intoxicated men got on to the bus. Magnus waited all of a minute or so before very loudly exclaiming "Cigany" much to my horror. Cigany means Gypsy in Hungarian. I think that it is becoming
a perjorative here, the equivalent of "Paki" in Britain. I instantly told Magnus to be quiet and then attempted to explain that it was rude to say it. The more I explained the more he repeated it. I gave up and said that I would try and explain further when we got off the bus.
At home Magnus revealed that it had started at Nursery. A classmate had came up to a Roma girl and said "Cigany". She had got upset and Magnus had noticed this. Obviously this had sown the seed. The prejudice against the Roma in Hungary is insidious and all pervasive. It is said that you can put three people in a room and they will soon start talking about the "Gypsy problem". The Roma are blamed for so many things. This state of affairs was not exactly helped by Jobbik, the Hungarian equivalent of the BNP, only nastier, focusing on gypsy crime in their recent election campaign. The fact that Jobbik went on to achieve 16% of the vote and seats in Parliament is testimony to the widespread support of this view.
I appreciate that nobody is perfect and that as human beings we all have our faults. The Roma are not saints, and neither is the average Hungarian. That is the crux of the matter in my opinion. The Roma are Hungarian, they have lived in Hungary for hundreds of years, if they were to go back from whence they came, a policy supported by some on the far right, where would they go? I wish that everyone in this small country could live in harmony. I am a dreamer I know. I doubt this will happen any time soon. If kids as young as 3 profess their parents prejudices then the circle will continue. My kids are following despite my best efforts. I am an outsider in Hungary but my kids are blending in just fine!
This post was written by Jo who blogs at Three Years in Hungary.