Hungary’s parliament adopted a bill today which effectively bans discussion of sexual and gender diversity in schools, media, advertising, and other public spaces, slapping those who violate it with administrative sanctions that could include fines. Most opposition parties boycotted the vote in protest.
On June 14, thousands of people gathered in Budapest to protest the homophobic and transphobic law, which conflates pedophilia with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The law further stigmatizes LGBT people and facilitates the government’s ongoing trampling of their rights.
One protester – maybe a LGBT person – carried a sign at Monday’s protest asking “can our child look at us?” – hinting at the question of whether that, too, would violate the new law banning “portraying and promoting” a gender different from that at birth, change of sex, or homosexuality.
Ahead of the parliamentary session on Monday, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, called on the members of Hungary’s parliament to reject the bill and urged them to “remain vigilant against such initiatives to push through measures that limit human rights or stigmatize against some members of society.”
The law, reminiscent of the so-called Russian 2013 “gay-propaganda” law, is a cynical attack by the ruling party Fidesz on the human dignity of LGBT people for political gain. By falsely associating harmful illegal behavior with LGBT people, authorities invite hostility and hatred against them, fueling homophobia and transphobia.
Initially designed to strengthen legal protections against pedophilia and sexual crimes against children, last minute modifications proposed by Fidesz members transformed the bill into a tool to persecute and stigmatize LGBT people, posing a risk to their safety and well-being and severely curtailing free speech. When it enters into effect, children will not be able to access inclusive sexuality education, and accurate public information on LGBT issues will be a thing of the past.
This brazen demonization of a marginalized group should be illegal in a European Union member state. The law erodes core EU values of non-discrimination and tolerance guaranteed in EU treaties. Hungary’s President, Janos Ader, should veto the bill and send it back to parliament for review.
The EU Commission and individual member states should use all means available to block this law. They should stand in solidarity with Hungary’s LGBT population and hold Hungary’s government to account for this latest anti-LGBT attack.