Equal. Courageous. Free. At HCLU, we have been working for such a country since 1994. Our aim is to ensure that everyone in Hungary can know and exercise their fundamental rights. We do this independently of state bodies and political parties. As a legal defence and rights development organisation, we run a free legal aid service, we initiate procedures to change systemic problems, and we help more people to know and defend their rights through campaigns, workshops and information materials.

Although our mission has remained unchanged for almost 30 years, every year we look at the most important problems facing Hungarian society and what we can do to change them. By 2021 it was clear that the government was trying to distract attention from the real problems with hate campaigns. It targets certain, typically vulnerable groups in society and uses propaganda media to turn public opinion against them for political gain. The year 2021 started with incitement against Hungarians of Roma origin, followed by LGBTQ+ people. The government, citing the Russian model of protecting children, introduced and then used its parliamentary majority to pass a homophobic and transphobic law, primarily for propaganda purposes. But in fact, countless groups have been targeted by the government in recent years, and hate speech has increasingly become a tool of power. It was to be expected that this problem would worsen as the 2022 general elections approached. This later proved to be the case, as the government initiated a referendum on 'child protection', which they were able to link to their own election campaign.

But we also had to admit that we cannot fight government hate speech with legal means. Therefore, we decided to go against HCLU's usual practice and launch a communication and awareness-raising campaign first and foremost. Our aim was to expose the intentions of those in power and to encourage people to stand up for each other on the eve of what is expected to be a divisive campaign year. As well as showing in the campaign launch video the exclusionary statements made by leading politicians, we made sure that the main message of the campaign was that we belong together. This is how the #TogetherWithOneAnother idea was born: "Let's build on what we have in common and build a country where diversity has a place."

In the campaign launched on 4 June, National Unity Day, we also drew attention to the fact that although hate speech is at its most damaging when it comes from those in power, we also have a responsibility as individuals to be inclusive in our society. We have therefore put together tools that we can use to combat exclusion in our everyday lives, so that we do not send out the message that we are powerless and vulnerable to hate speech. However, it has been difficult to come up with an effective tool for coordinated action in the short term to change the situation. We therefore encouraged our followers to spread the campaign message.

The campaign materials were shared primarily on HCLU social platforms, with stickers and instagram face filters to make it easier for people to engage with the #TogetherWithOneAnother message. The face filters were less used by our followers, the stickers were more popular and have since proved useful in our Instagram communications. The biggest hit was the social campaign launch ad starring Zsolt Nagy, a famous Hungarian actor, which was also broadcast on one of the biggest television channels RTL Klub and has over 100,000 views on YouTube. This has made it the most popular HCLU video in recent years. For fundraising purposes, the campaign also included a special T-shirt and a badge made by Hungarian designers, who also included the products in their own collections.

Influencers also played a very important role in this, with many of them sharing the campaign content on Instagram without being asked. We also proactively approached several of them with three different requests. We asked those who are more bold in their communication on political issues and have a close relationship with us to share the video, write about hate speech and wear the t-shirt and badge. Those with whom we have less close ties, but who we saw as speaking out on specific public issues, were asked to share the video. And from those who were less engaged on public issues on their profile, but we knew they were committed to the organisation, we asked for help in distributing #TogetherWithOneAnother merch.

On social media over the summer, it was clear that a lot of people could relate to the campaign’s messages. The second half of the campaign was timed for the autumn of 2021, when the elections were already actively engaged with public opinion. In this context, we wanted to ask the political players aspiring to power to commit to inclusive campaigning. However, the parties we contacted - although some of them expressed similar ideas - typically did not commit to the campaign message. It was also clear from the reactions of our followers that they were less clear about linking the general message of the campaign to the specific political situation. We also planned a concrete action for this period: we wrote a sample letter to the President of the Republic, who is supposed to embody the unity of the nation, and asked people to send it themselves to him as well. We did not expect a real reaction from the President of the Republic, the action was rather symbolic.

Our peer-to-peer campaign launched at the end of the year, asking for support for the anti-hate campaign of HCLU, was a great success however. Taking the #TogetherWithOneAnother idea as a starting point, we launched a #Knit-It-Together appeal, which also took advantage of the fact that more and more people started making crafts during the forced closure caused by the epidemic. We asked influencers and "knitting ambassadors" to create a piece of art, document the process and raise money for HCLU. And before Christmas, we auctioned off the artwork on HCLU's Instagram page.

All in all, the campaign has sensitively highlighted an issue that has been of intense concern to citizens critical of the government, but even less publicised. Many people could identify with the ideas expressed in the campaign, which were then reflected in the communication of other civilians as a result of the homophobic law, so that our messages could reinforce each other. However, the actions that were designed to channel people who agreed with the campaign message into some kind of activity (sending letters, sharing stories, experiences) worked much less well. However, the visibility of the organisation was greatly enhanced by the campaign, and the messages it contained have been used regularly in our communications ever since.