Thousands of people took part this Saturday in the Pride March in Budapest, whose main theme this year was the protest against the so-called anti-LGBT law of the government of nationalist Viktor Orbán.
The previous edition of the march, in 2019, attracted around 20,000 people, according to the organizers. Despite the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic, they expected a greater presence at this year’s parade, which began at 3 p.m. local time, 10 a.m. in Brazil, due to intensified polarization politics in the country.
Over the past two years, Orbán has fostered an escalation in attacks on LGBT rights, including banning transgender people from changing their names and legally defining a family as consisting only of a male father. and a female mother.
In the latest offensive, the government, which controls more than two-thirds of the Hungarian parliament, passed a law prohibiting “the making available to minors under the age of 18 of pornography or depiction of sexuality for their own purposes, or involving any deviation from the gender identity the person was born with, or gender shift and homosexuality ”.
In March, Orbán had already sued a television station for showing an LGBT family in an advertisement. The government also banned the circulation of a fairy tale book that included same-sex relationships.
Another ingredient that helped ferment Saturday’s protest is next year’s election, in which the Tory PM is to face the candidate from a united front of the opposition, made up of six major political parties. all political horizons.
The march takes place precisely in the fields of one of the main creators of this united opposition front, the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony, 46 years old. Anti-Orbán acronyms have yet to choose their candidate, but the young environmentalist is singled out as one of the favorites.
It was also because of the elections that the current Prime Minister began to raise anti-LGBT rhetoric – according to Hungarian analysts, as part of the usual populist tactic of creating a common enemy and presenting himself as the strong man capable of fighting it.
Orbán’s main target for the past decade has been immigrants, but the prime minister turned his battery against non-heterosexual minorities after the refugee crisis ended. In the case of the law passed in June, human rights activists claim that in addition to harming education and culture, the government has created a false association between homosexuality and pedophilia.
“This Hungarian law is a disgrace”, declared the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen at the end of June.
Last week, the Commission launched legal action against the measure, which has been the subject of protests from progressives in Europe and Hungary. One of the consequences of the process may be the suspension of the transfer of funds to the country, but the process usually takes several years.
For his part, the Prime Minister doubled the bet against his detractors, announcing that he will organize a referendum on the text approved in Parliament. As in other consultations already organized by the Hungarian government, the referendum contains biased questions, according to opponents.
One, for example, asks voters if “content that may affect sexual orientation should be shown to children without restrictions”.
UNDERSTANDING THE CASE
Who is the Prime Minister of Hungary?
Viktor Orbán, 58, studied English, law and political science. He became leader of the Fidesz party in 1993 and made it migrate from its liberal line to a conservative, nationalist and populist platform.
Orbán was Prime Minister for the first time from 1998 to 2002. He returned to government in 2010 and, with parliamentary scrutiny, changed electoral laws which allowed his party to gain more seats with fewer votes. . He was re-elected in 2014 and 2018.
Has Orbán’s political agenda always been anti-LGBT?
No. The conservative politician pursues the populist strategy of creating enemies against whom he presents himself as a leader with firm hands capable of defending the population.
Since his return to power in 2010, Communists, immigrants, the European Union, Jewish capitalists (notably Hungarian-American George Soros) and, for the past three years, LGBT people have already been chosen as primary targets.
According to historian Eva Balogh, Orbán is not personally homophobic and that is not an ideological problem for the party. “The Fidesz leadership has known for 30 years that József Szájer, one of Orbán’s close friends and political allies, is homosexual, but his sexual orientation was not a problem in his political community,” she wrote on her Hungarian Spectrum blog.
What rights have already been taken away from LGBT people?
The constitutional amendments led by Orbán limited the definition of family, for example, to that formed by a man and a woman, and determined that a person’s sex must be biological.
In practice, this prevents transgender people from changing their names and, in addition to abolishing the civil rights of same-sex couples, severely restricts the possibility of adoption by those who are not married Catholics.
How does the anti-pedophilia law affect LGBT rights?
Fidesz, the party controlled by Orbán, inserted into the law an article which reads: “For the purposes of this law and to guarantee the rights of the child, it is forbidden to put pornography or representations of sexuality in the disposition of persons under the age of 18 for their own purposes, or which involves a deviation of the identity of the sex with which the person was born, or a change of gender and homosexuality ”.
In other words, it creates an identification between homosexuality and pedophilia and prevents sex education and even the mention of homosexuality in schools.
What does Orbán say about this law?
Orbán and members of his government have said that the intention of the law is to ensure that “sexual education of children belongs exclusively to parents”, although the approved text makes no mention of the word father.
“LGBTQ activists visit nurseries and schools across the EU and teach sex education classes. They also want to do it here in Hungary ”, declared the Prime Minister at the end of July, whereas he promised a referendum on the legislation.
Why is Orbán now attacking LGBT people?
Opponents accuse him of trying to distract attention from the wave of criticism that has taken to the streets after the government’s attempt to build a Fudan University campus in China in Budapest.
For some analysts, attacking LGBT people is an opportunistic political strategy that resonates with the country’s most conservative voters. Historian Eva Balogh sees it as “a cold political calculation, dictated by the threat of a united opposition, which could overthrow Orbán’s party in April 2022”.
What is the reaction of the European Union?
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton took the first step towards legal action against Hungary: they sent a letter to Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga asking for clarification. He has a deadline until the end of this month.
The leaders of the majority of the bloc’s members signed a letter asking the European Commission (the EU’s executive arm) to take action against the law, which they say “represents a blatant form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation , gender identity and expression and, therefore, it deserves to be condemned ”.
Can Hungary be forced to review the law?
Not directly, but there are three ways to try to pressure him.
1) The first is Justice. Following the Hungarian minister’s response to this week’s questioning, the Commission could initiate infringement proceedings, forcing Hungary to change the law.
If Hungary refuses, the case will be taken to the European Court of Justice. If the final decision is that Hungarian law violates European law, the Hungarian government could be punished, but this process could take years.
2) Another avenue of pressure is a disciplinary procedure known as Article 7, which the European Commission applies when it considers that one of its members may violate core EU values. Ultimately, the procedures of Article 7 may lead to the suspension of a country’s voting rights at the European Council, a body which brings together the governments of 27 members.
This, however, requires the unanimous approval of the other 26 members, which is unlikely as Poland, also under investigation, is backing the Orbán government.
3) A new instrument, the result of a less emphatic agreement signed last year, is to attempt to link the transfer of billionaire resources for post-pandemic reconstruction to respect for EU values and the rule of law .
As the text does not firmly establish this barrier, its application would depend on the political strength and diplomacy of the Commission. The stakes are not negligible: Hungary seeks to receive 50 billion euros (296 billion BRL), or about a third of its annual GDP.