The law approved this Tuesday by the Hungarian Parliament prohibiting, among other things, talking about homosexuality in schools has unleashed a barrage of criticism from the main human rights organizations and groups in defense of LGTBI rights.
The controversial measures are part of a bill against pedophilia, which also prohibits exposing minors under 18 to pornography and any content that encourages sex change and homosexuality. Thousands of people protested on Monday in Kossuth Square, where Parliament is located, against the approval of the law and show their solidarity with the LGTBI community.
The legislation went ahead with the votes of the ruling Fidesz party, of the ultranationalist Viktor Orbán, and has been branded as “homophobic” by the country’s progressive opposition that, together with social organizations and the press that is not controlled by the Government, denounces which is especially harmful because it equates homosexuality with pedophilia. The left-wing opposition parties, including the socialists, the Párbeszéd (Dialogue) formation, the Democratic Coalition and the LMP ecologists, decided not to participate in the vote, while the right-wing opposition formation Jobbik backed the regulations.
Before the parliamentary session, Dunja Mijatovic, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, the main human rights body on the continent, called on Hungarian lawmakers in a statement to reject the legislation. “I beg you to remain attentive to this type of initiative to promote measures that limit human rights or stigmatize some members of society.”
Several NGOs have been criticizing the law for days, assuring that it “is unprecedented in the European Union (EU)” and endangers the mental health of LGTBI youth. Organizations such as the Háttér Association, for the defense of LGTBI rights or Budapest Pride have recalled that this legislation is very similar to the one that Russia approved in 2013 on “gay propaganda”, and that it led to an increase in homophobia in that country.
The same has been denounced by Amnesty International. “This is a dark day for LGBTI rights and for Hungary. Like the infamous Russian ‘propaganda law’, this new legislation will further stigmatize LGBTI people and their allies. It will expose people already facing a environment hostile to further discrimination, “said David Vig from AI’s Hungary branch on Tuesday. “The inclusion of these amendments in a bill that aims to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to confuse pedophilia with LGBTI people.”
According to the executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Europe, Evelyne Paradis, “with this vote, Hungary has adopted a Russian-style anti-propaganda law that will ban in practice representation or communication on various sexual orientations, gender identities and sexual characteristics in the Hungarian public sphere, as well as in specific places such as schools. “
Lydia Gall, lead researcher for Eastern Europe and Western Balkans at Human Rights Watch (HRW), has criticized that “by falsely associating harmful illegal behavior with LGBT people, the authorities invite hostility and hatred against them, fueling the homophobia and transphobia “. “Initially designed to reinforce legal protection against pedophilia and sexual crimes against children, the last minute modifications proposed by Fidesz members transformed the bill into a tool to persecute and stigmatize LGBT people, which means a risk to their safety and well-being and severely restricts freedom of expression. When it comes into force, children will not be able to access inclusive sex education, and accurate public information on LGBT issues will be a thing of the past. “
Hungary’s main television networks have criticized the new law, which they consider a threat to freedom of expression, and one of them has said that it could affect the projection of some classic films and television programs. “Works like Billy elliott, Philadelphia, The diaryof Bridget Jones or even some movies from Harry Potter they would only be screened late at night “, said the private channel RTL Klub, according to Reuters. “Series like Modern family would be prohibited, as were some episodes of Friends“.
The legislation endorsed by the Hungarian Executive is added to the list of laws that limit LGTBI rights approved since Orbán came to power in 2010. Already in the Constitution of 2011, approved alone by the party of the ultranationalist leader, it was determined that marriage was the union of a man and a woman. In addition, last December, Hungary introduced a constitutional amendment that excludes all homosexual couples from the right to adopt and indicates the definition of sex assigned at birth.
Several politicians have also publicly launched homophobic messages. The president of Parliament and one of the founders of Fidesz, László Kövér, has compared homosexuals who want to adopt with pedophiles. “Hungary is a tolerant and patient country with homosexuality, as long as our children are left alone,” Orbán said at the time, shortly before adoption by same-sex couples was prohibited, reports the EFE Agency.
Last year, a children’s book titled Wonderland is for everyone, which sought to show respect for minorities, was described by the government as “homosexual propaganda” that should be banned in schools. During the pandemic, in May 2020, the Government prohibited transsexuals from being renamed.
The organizations turn their eyes to the EU, which they ask to take action. “This blatant demonization of a marginalized group should be illegal in an EU Member State. The law erodes the core EU values of non-discrimination and tolerance guaranteed in EU treaties. Hungary’s President Janos Ader must veto the law and return it to parliament for review. The EU Commission and Member States must use all available means to block this law. They must stand in solidarity with the Hungarian LGBT population and hold the Hungarian government accountable for the latter anti-LGBT attack, “says HRW’s Call.
“This law clearly violates the principles of the EU established in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaties, as well as at least two EU directives,” says the ILGA representative. “The European Commission cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the continuous legislative attacks launched by Fidesz against the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTI people in Hungary, but must use all available instruments to hold Hungary accountable. on respect for fundamental rights, including LGBTI rights “.
“The enabling conditions for the Cohesion Funds clearly state that Member States must respect the fundamental rights set out in the Charter. Hungary is violating fundamental rights with this new law and therefore no EU funds should be paid to Hungary before the law is withdrawn, “says Evelyne Paradis.
David Vig from Amnesty International in Hungary agrees that the EU and its member states “must take urgent action by raising this issue at the next General Affairs Council meeting and ensuring that the EU is a safe place for LGBTI people.”
According to EFE, the spokesman for Justice and the Interior of the European Commission, Christian Wigand, has said that the Community Executive cannot withhold European recovery funds from Hungary using the mechanism of violation of the rule of law by the law approved this Tuesday. “According to the regulation, measures can only be taken when an infringement of the rule of law seriously affects or runs the risk of affecting the sound financial management of the EU budget (…) Based on this, we do not see a connection between this law Hungarian and the conditionality mechanism, “he said at the daily press conference.
Wigand has argued that this situation differs from the case of the aid blocked by the Commission last July to six Polish municipalities proclaimed zones free of LGTB ideology, since these funds were framed within the framework of a twinning program.
The first reaction came through a message on the social network Twitter from the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, who regretted the implementation of the regulations. “When it comes to building their own identity, younger generations need access to information that reflects a modern and truly open society, in all its diversity. No one should be censored, ”he wrote.
Before the commissioner’s message, during the press conference, several media approached Wigand and the deputy main spokesperson of the Community Executive, Dana Spinant, to ask if the Commission would take any action on the new law. In this sense, Spinat has assured that the Community Executive is studying the new law “in detail”, but has indicated that until this in-depth examination is completed on the “real legal situation” and the “competencies that exist at the European ”the Commission will not be able to take action on the matter.
“And if we have to take action, we can do it. Covering all the evolution of the legal interpretation of the regulation “, the spokeswoman has sentenced who recalled that the Commission has committed on several occasions to address the inequalities and challenges that affect LGBTIQ people in Europe