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Hungarian lawmaker resigns after police apprehend him fleeing reported ‘sex party’ amid pandemic restrictions

Jozsef Szajer, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament, resigned after attending a sex party held in violation of Belgium’s coronavirus restrictions. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

BERLIN — A key political ally of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has resigned after attending what local media outlets described as a “sex party” in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Friday night.

Jozsef Szajer, a founding member of Orban’s Fidesz party and a member of the European Parliament, confirmed in a statement Tuesday that he “was present” at a “private party in Brussels on Friday.”

He had abruptly resigned from his parliamentary position Sunday, citing “a long period of reflection.”

Szajer didn’t mention the event in his initial resignation statement Sunday. But after multiple media outlets in Belgium and Hungary began disclosing information about the party, Szajer on Tuesday confirmed that he was present when police officers disrupted the event, held in violation of Belgium’s coronavirus restrictions.

He attempted to escape “through the roof gutter,” according to a Belgian newspaper, before being apprehended by officers. “This man was unable to produce any identity documents. He was taken to his home,” the Brussels public prosecutor said in a statement, according to La Dernière Heure newspaper.

In a statement sent by a spokesman for the center-right political group in the European Parliament, Szájer denied reports that he had consumed drugs at the party, even though he confirmed that authorities said they found ecstasy. Prosecutors said they found narcotics in the backpack of an attendee, whom they identified with Szajer’s initials and year of birth.

If he were to be charged with drug offenses, Brussels prosecutors would need to file a parliamentary immunity waiver to the European Parliament.

The Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper reported that a crowd of 25 mostly male visitors — including multiple people claiming diplomatic immunity — had attended the party only yards from a central Brussels police station.

Szajer was one of the architects of Hungary’s new constitution, drafted starting in 2010, that drew fierce criticism from LGBT and human rights groups at the time. Human Rights Watch subsequently found that provisions in it “discriminate against LGBT people and limit women’s rights.”

In recent years, critics have accused Hungary’s right-wing government of an increasingly illiberal stance and repeated assaults against democratic institutions under the pretext of defending “Christian values.” Last month, Orban’s government proposed a constitutional amendment to align children’s upbringing with Hungary’s “national self-identification and Christian culture” — a move that would de facto ban adoption by same-sex couples.

In his statement Tuesday, Szajer apologized to his family, colleagues and voters. He asked them to not extend their blame over his “misstep” to “my homeland or to my political community.”

But critics of the Hungarian government seized on the news Tuesday, accusing Szajer and his party of hypocrisy.

“The anti-LGBTI* hatred spread by the far-right for years — including by Fidesz … — is destroying people’s lives,” wrote Terry Reintke, a German Green party member of the European Parliament on Twitter, without directly referring to the incident. “Our fight against the attacks on fundamental rights — especially in Poland and Hungary — will continue.”

Ariès reported from Brussels.

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