Amid strong criticism from human rights groups and the opposition to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Parliament on Tuesday (15) approved a law banning the dissemination in schools of content characterized as a means of promoting homosexuality and gender change.
The Prime Minister will run for a new term in next year’s elections, in which he will seek his fourth consecutive electoral victory – he has ruled the country since 2010. For this, he has bet on an increasingly radical position on the social issues. politics, criticizing the LGBT community, discussions on gender and immigration policies, which have led to intensified polarization in Hungary.
With a conservative Christian agenda, Fidesz, Orbán’s party, introduced the bill last week as an amendment to another proposal that provides for penalties for the crime of pedophilia – a legislative move that has, in in fact, reduces the chances that parliamentarians will vote against it. The result was 157 votes for and one against, the opposition having decided to boycott the vote.
The measure, which attempts to establish links between pedophilia and LGBT issues, triggered a demonstration on Monday (14), the day before the vote, at the gates of Parliament. Thousands of protesters gathered in Budapest with rainbow flags and slogans against the bill.
“It is horrible and inhuman,” Dominika Pandzsa, a kindergarten worker, told Reuters news agency. “They are trying to deprive people of all their rights. It would lock some children in the closet, and they should be given the opportunity to expose themselves.”
According to the approved legislation, “content that represents sexuality or encourages deviation from gender identity, sex reassignment or homosexuality must not be accessible to persons under the age of 18”.
The law prohibits the exposure of pornography to children and adolescents – another way to secure parliamentary support for the bill. In practice, however, according to various human rights groups, the restriction can be extended to any material or content depicting different sexual orientations and gender identities, from books and movies like Harry Potter to advertisements like the ones Coca-Cola has. disseminated. the country in 2019. The soda ad showed a two-man couple and sparked a wave of criticism and calls for a boycott of the brand by conservatives.
The new legislation also requires the creation of a shortlist of organizations authorized to prepare lectures, workshops or courses that address discussions on gender and sexuality in schools. For Fidesz members, the measure will prevent this type of event from being used to “influence the sexual development of children”.
Orbán’s supporters also claim that the so-called “awareness programs” that make up various anti-discrimination campaigns in Hungary “can seriously harm the physical, mental and moral development” of children.
The same reasoning was used last year, when a children’s book titled “Wonderland is for everyone” (Wonderland is for everyone) was severely criticized by conservative Hungarian politicians.
The short story collection brought together stories such as two princes who fell in love with each other and a black-skinned “Snow White” woman. According to its creators, the book aims to help young people learn to accept minorities and fight prejudice and social ostracism. The work, however, has been labeled by the government as “gay propaganda” and banned in schools.
Since last week, when the bill was introduced, human rights groups have claimed that the new legislation restricts free speech and children’s rights and endangers the mental health of LGBT youth by putting them at risk. preventing access to information and support. On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the situation in Hungary, Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, also criticized the new law saying that “using child protection as an excuse to reach out to LGBTQI people is detrimental to all children”.
In December last year, a decision by the Hungarian Parliament to amend the country’s constitution defined “family” as “based on marriage and the relationship between parents and children”. According to the amended text, “the mother is a woman, the father a man”, and the children should be brought up in a conservative spirit. In practice, Hungarian law definitively prohibits the adoption of children by couples made up of two men or two women.
Orbán’s government has also stepped up its anti-LGBT rhetoric by prohibiting transgender people, who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth, from modifying their personal documents. The law passed last May replaces the “sex” category in civil status by “sex assigned at birth”, defined as “biological sex based on primary sexual characteristics and chromosomes”.
Also in 2020, a member of Fidesz, MEP József Szájer, was arrested in Brussels after participating in an orgy as the city adopted severe isolation measures to contain a new record of Covid-19 cases. Half an hour before the city’s curfew, police entered a building near the Grand Place, one of the Belgian capital’s top tourist spots, and found 25 people, most of them men and many of them undressed. Diplomats and politicians were present and police found drugs at the scene.
Faced with the repercussions of the affair, Szájer left Orbán’s party, for which the actions of the now former supporter were “indefensible” and went against the values of Fidesz. An important figure in the country’s political scene and an ally of the Prime Minister for more than 30 years, he sat in the Hungarian National Assembly between 1990 and 2004, when he was elected to the European Parliament.
Same-sex relationships are still considered a crime in 69 countries, according to the leading global report on the subject released last year, “State Homophobia,” produced by ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Association). , trans and intersex).