Hungary bans homosexuality in schools and on children's television

The EU threatens sanctions for the approval of a law that links the LGTBI collective with paedophilia

3 min
Protest against the approval of the law on Monday in front of the Hungarian Parliament

SabadellThe Hungarian government has taken another step in its crusade against LGTBI rights. The country's Parliament has passed a law that prohibits talking about homosexuality in schools or include content that is considered to promote homosexuality or sex change among school materials or television spaces aimed at minors, including advertisements. The law has been approved thanks to the absolute majority of Fidesz, the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and has also received the support of the far-right Jobbik, while the rest of the opposition has chosen not to participate in the vote.

These restrictions were incorporated last week, in the form of amendments, to a law against paedophilia that had broad parliamentary support and that among other things prohibits exposing minors to pornographic content. "Attaching these amendments to a law that aims to punish child abuse represents a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to conflate paedophilia with LGTBI," said Dávid Vig, Amnesty International's Hungary director. The organization compared the new law to "Russia's infamous law against homosexual propaganda" and warned that it would "further stigmatize LGTBI and its allies".

"There is content that children up to a certain age can misinterpret and that can have a harmful effect on their development, or that children simply cannot process, which could confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world", a Hungarian government spokesman has argued in justifying the passage of the law. The strong social rejection that has aroused the legal change was evidenced on Monday, with a massive demonstration in front of Parliament.

Among the aspects that the text regulates is the prohibition that any person or entity that is not part of an official registry can give sex education classes in schools. In addition, according to opponents of the rule, any film, television program or advertisement in which a homosexual character appears can only be broadcast outside child protection hours.

European reaction

The approval of this law could have consequences for Hungary in the form of economic sanctions, as the Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, warned on Tuesday, in an interview with Reuters. Shortly before the text was validated in Parliament, Dalli has warned that Brussels is considering responding with similar measures to the freezing of funds with which the regions of Poland that declared themselves "free of LGTBI" were punished. "Yes, of course. Without a doubt", the commissioner replied when asked whether the EU is likely to impose such sanctions on Hungary. "The message is that if you don't defend the values of democracy or equality of the European Union, you are not entitled to receive money for your project", she said.

Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the EP's rapporteur on the rule of law in Hungary, denounced that "using the protection of minors as an excuse to attack the LGTBI community is harmful to all children in Hungary". In the same vein, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, said on Monday that the new legislation is "an attack on the rights and identities of LGTBI people" and "goes against European and international human rights standards". "It is misleading and false to say that it has been passed to protect children", he added.

Cutting rights

Since coming to power in 2010, Viktor Orbán has pushed through several measures that have curtailed gay and transgender rights. In 2011 his party single-handedly passed a constitutional reform defining marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman, and last year he banned adoptions by gay couples and withdrew legal recognition for people who had changed their sex. It also forced the publishers of a children's storybook to include a warning that it included "behaviour incompatible with traditional gender roles".

After winning the last three general elections with an absolute majority, Orbán will face a new situation next spring: the entire opposition, from the left-wing forces to the far-right Jobbik, has decided to unite and present a single candidacy to remove him from power. And, according to the polls, they have a good chance of succeeding.