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Hungary’s PM wants his own law against ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’

Hungary’s PM wants his own law against ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’
Gay Pride in Budapest, 2017. Image: Christo via Wikimedia Commons

11 June 2021

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party is proposing a ban on sex education and content “promoting” homosexuality or gender change in a bill echoing Russia’s 2013 “anti-gay propaganda law”.

Submitted to parliament on Thursday, the bill, entitled “On stricter action against paedophile offenders, and amending certain laws to protect children”, is likely to be passed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s parliamentary majority.

The bill would ban content in films and books that show or promote “deviations from sex and gender assigned at birth, and homosexuality”.

The amendments would also target advertising. It follows Coca-Cola’s 2019 “Love is Love” campaign, which caused controversy in Hungary by featuring gay couples and ultimately led the company to be fined by the Pest County Government Office. A similar advertising campaign took place after the Hungarian government redefined the constitutional definition of family to exclude same-sex couples. More than 40 companies, including HBO, the Sziget Festival, and IKEA, took part in the “Family is Family” campaign, which drew attention to LGBTQ+ discrimination. Under the new bill, both campaigns would have been illegal.

The amendments would also limit the activity of NGOs, forcing them to apply to the government in order to be able to teach sex education in schools.

“This is a political product to set the agenda and provide a narrative for Orbán’s followers, and falsely connect LGBTQ people to paedophilia, stigmatising and marginalising them further,” the Director of Amnesty International Hungary, Vig Dávid, told The Calvert Journal. “The EU Commission must take immediate action to stop what is in full contradiction with its 2020-2025 LGBTQI Strategy, and the EU Council must make clear: this is a breach of EU values.”

The bill follows changes to the constitution in 2020 which redefined marriage as the union between a man and a woman, banned people from changing their gender on official documents, and stripped same-sex couples of the right to adopt. In a similar vein, Orbán’s announced in an interview for public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió earlier this week that he wanted to make “immigration illegal” for the next two years.

While progressive Hungarian NGOs have also spoken against the bill, the right to assembly is still banned under Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, analysts have speculated that the intensified anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-migrant rhetoric is an attempt to ensure conservative voters’ loyalty to Fidesz amid economic uncertainty before elections in early 2022.

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