Budapest: Hungary has banned any portrayals of homosexuality or gender fluidity being shown to minors, something supporters claim will help fight paedophilia but which human rights groups gave denounced as discrimination.
Fidesz, the conservative ruling party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, introduced the legislation, which is the latest effort to curtail the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in the European nation.
Hungary’s National Assembly approved the bill in a 157-1 vote, opposed by one independent.
A drag queen waves a rainbow flag during an LGBT rights demonstration in front of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary on June. 14, 2021. Credit:AP
Csaba Domotor, the Fidesz state secretary, described the goal as “the protection of children,” noting that the changes include the introduction of a searchable registry of convicted paedophiles.
“Paedophiles won’t be able to hide any more – there are similar solutions in other countries, too.”
All other opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest. Human rights groups strongly denounced the measure, saying it was wrong to conflate LGBTQ people with paedophilia. They argued that the law could be used to stigmatise and harass residents because of their sexual orientations and gender identities.
“On this shameful day, the opposition’s place is not in the parliament but on the streets,” Budapest Mayor Karacsony wrote on Facebook.
Orban’s government in the past has depicted migrants as a grave threat to Hungary and the nation’s Christian identity, a theme the prime minister has successfully used to win past elections. With the next elections scheduled for 2022, and fewer migrants entering Europe, the ruling party has increasingly depicted the LGBTQ rights movement as a threat in an attempt to shore up its conservative base.
Yet more than a dozen local organisations, including Amnesty International Hungary and LGBTQ rights organisations, argued in a statement after the vote that the legislation did not reflect Hungarian society, which they argue is largely accepting of people’s sexualities.
“(It) also clearly infringes the right to freedom of expression, human dignity and equal treatment, the statement said.
The legislation included amendments that ban the representation of any sexual orientation besides heterosexual as well as sex reassignment information in school sex education programs, or in films and advertisements aimed at anyone under 18.
Thousands of LGBTQ activists and supporters held a protest in Budapest on Monday (Tuesday AEST) in an unsuccessful effort to stop the legislation from passing.
Dunja Mijatovic, the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, had asked Hungarian lawmakers to reject the legislation, saying it reinforced prejudice and homophobia.
Hungary’s laws follow moves in Poland, where 94 municipalities have declared “LGBTQ-free zones”, signing charters that would uphold only the right of heterosexual families.
A report for the Council of Europe released in February this year found that anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in Poland had doubled in the past two years.
“Today’s decision in Hungary’s parliament represents another severe state discrimination against #LGBTIQ people,” Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth of Germany tweeted Tuesday after the new legislation passed. “This law goes against everything we regard as our common European values. Full solidarity and support for LGBTIQ people in Hungary.”
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