In Hungary, Being LGBTQ+ Is the Same As Being a Pedophile

A new law bans the promotion of LGBTQ+ content to children

Photo by Nimesh on Unsplash

Since the 15th of June 2021, it is illegal to expose children to LGBTQ+ content in Hungary. Mimicking Russia’s 2013 Gay Propaganda Law, the conservative party led by Viktor Orbán approved legislation that bans the dissemination of content promoting homosexuality and gender change. This criminalizes any discussion on the topic inside schools or even on advertising.

Orbán’s party, Fidesz, defends the law is not aimed at attacking the LGBTQ+ community but rather at protecting children and keeping their education in the parents’ hands, defending that “only parents can decide on the sexual education of their children”.

“How a child is brought up sexually is not a child’s human right. There is no such human right. Instead, there is Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the right of parents to ensure that their child is provided with an appropriate upbringing.” — Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister

Furthermore, the law puts together two completely unrelated topics, as it was added to a bill aimed at protecting children from pedophiles, making it harder to lawmakers to vote against it. So, now, in Hungary, an LGBTQ+ person is, legally, the same as a pedophile.

This diminishes LGBTQ+ rights and visibility in a country that was already lagging behind. Gay marriage is illegal, and last year the government even amended a law to redefine the concept of “family” as a married man and woman, making it impossible for a rainbow family to adopt.

The new law has generated backlash from EU leaders, with 16 out of the 27 EU members signing a document that calls out Hungary on this decision:

“The law represents a flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression and hence deserves to be condemned. Inclusion, human dignity, and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles”.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted that “the Hungarian bill is a shame”, and Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister, even went as far as saying that Hungary “has no business being in the European Union anymore”.

Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay, declared that “I didn’t get up one morning after having seen an advert on the TV of some brand… and say ‘I’m gay’. That’s not how life works”.

The law was conveniently approved in June, when Pride Month is celebrated in most countries. It happened to be at the same time as the Euro 2020 football championship had started, and where Hungary was participating, with Budapest even hosting some of the matches.

On the 23rd of June, Hungary’s national team played against Germany in Munich. The Mayor’s office requested UEFA to light up the stadium in rainbow colors, which was dismissed:

“UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organization. Given the political context of this specific request — a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament — UEFA must decline this request”.

On the same day, Hungary lit up some of its iconic buildings in the national colors of red, white, and green. A way of supporting the national team or of provoking the “enemy”?…

On the 24th of July, Budapest will host its annual Pride March. In past years, there were some minor incidents. The tension is high this time. It remains to be seen what the 2021’s edition will bring, at a time where the LGBTQ+ community needs to make its voice heard, more than ever.

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