Hungary just banned TV programs and schools from talking about gay people in a sweeping bill that advocates said will fight pedophilia and the sexual abuse of children.
“This is a blanket approval to treat LGBT people with discrimination, with hatred,” said András Léderer at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee Europe. “The idea that being gay poses a risk in itself to people under 18 is such a horrible vicious concept … It will have tragic effects on the mental wellbeing of young LGBT people.”
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The attacks on LGBTQ rights continued in the central European nation as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-populist Fidesz Party passed a law similar to Russia’s ban on “homosexual propaganda” today.
Of the 199 members of Hungary’s parliament, 157 voted in favor of the anti-LGBTQ bill, one voted against it, and the rest abstained, some in protest of the vote.
“There are contents which children under a certain age can misunderstand and which may have a detrimental effect on their development at the given age, or which children simply cannot process, and which could therefore confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world,” said a spokesperson for the Hungarian government.
The law only allows organizations registered on a government list to conduct sex education in schools. The government defended the measure, saying that there are “organizations with dubious professional background… often established for the representation of specific sexual orientations.”
Advertising featuring LGBTQ people is also banned by the law. In 2019, Coca-Cola ran ads in the country that showed same-sex couples, including one with a man with his arms around the shoulders of another man and two other ads with women sharing a bottle of Coke. The ad drew calls for a boycott in the country.
Advocates said that the law would even ban the rainbow flag from appearing on TV and in movies.
“Like the infamous Russian ‘propaganda law’ this new legislation will further stigmatize LGBTI people and their allies,” said Amnesty International’s Hungary director Dávid Vig. “Tagging these amendments to a bill that seeks to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to conflate pedophilia with LGBTI people.”
Last May, Hungary banned transgender people from updating the gender on their government ID’s, saying that ID’s should only list a person’s “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.”
“This attack on the trans community is outrageous and deliberate,” said Member of European Parliament Marc Angel when the anti-trans law was proposed was proposed. “This move does not only intentionally silence the trans community, it seeks to erase it and deny its existence.”
And in December of last year, Hungary amended its constitution to ban adoption by same-sex couples.
“Hungary defends the right of children to identify with their birth gender and ensures their upbringing based on our nation’s constitutional identity and values based on our Christian culture,” the Hungarian constitution now says. It also says that children must be raised in a “conservative spirit” and that family is “based on marriage and the parent-child relation. The mother is a woman, the father a man.”
Earlier this year, Orbán picked a fight with a small publisher that was selling an anthology of fairy tales, some which included LGBTQ people. The government ordered the publisher to issue a warning that the books showed “behavior inconsistent with traditional gender roles.”
Orbán himself said that the books were “a provocative act.”
The Orbán government, which has no LGBTQ members, has made numerous anti-LGBTQ statements. Orban’s cultural commissioner, Imre Kerényi, said in 2014 that theater and film are “in the hands of the a lobby of faggots.”
Orbán described the state of LGBTQ rights in a 2015 interview by saying that he is grateful that “the Hungarian homosexual community” hasn’t shown “the provocative behavior against which numerous European nations are struggling.”
He suggested that things would get worse for LGBTQ people if “the community of homosexuals starts being more provocative.”