Out in the World: Hungary's parliament OKs anti-LGBTQ propaganda law


Hungary's parliament voted 157-1 in favor of the anti-LGBTQ propaganda law June 15.

The ruling Fidesz party submitted the proposed law earlier this month after Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed the law is needed to protect children from pedophilia. It echoes Russia's 2013 Anti-Homosexuality Propaganda law.

The bill would ban showing educational materials, advertising, and other "promotion" of same-sex relationships, and/or gender identity to anyone under 18 years of age. It prohibits pornographic material.

LGBTQ and human rights advocates immediately condemned the bill, calling it a tool that will create more discrimination and further stigmatize LGBTQ people in an already hostile environment. They called for the bill's withdrawal before parliament's vote.

Luca Dudits, an executive board member with the Háttér Society, a Budapest-based LGBTQ rights group, was worried about the outcome of the bill.

Dudits told the Associated Press there is no similar law anywhere in the European Union "that is so hostile" to LGBTQ people.

Foundation for Rainbow Families representative Marton Pal and his same-sex partner were shocked by the new bill and angered by it last week. The couple has adopted children.

"Yesterday was a hard day. We went to sleep with a lot of anger," Pal told Hungarian TV channel RTL. "When we read these amendments to the law, we gasped for air at what is happening around us, and why there is this stigma. We are trying to process what opportunity this law creates for power."

Human Rights Watch called for the bill's rejection, citing its "sweeping consequences for health providers, educators, and artists, among others," according to a June 11 statement from the organization. HRW associate LGBT rights director Neela Ghoshal called the Fidesz party's reasoning for the bill as "cynically deployed."

She said the efforts to "scapegoat" and trample on LGBTQ rights in the name of children's rights are "part of a wider strategy to sidestep human rights obligations and cement Orban's brand of authoritarianism."

"Children do not need to be protected from exposure to diversity," Ghoshal, who identifies as a queer pansexual, stated. "On the contrary, LGBT children and families need protection from discrimination and violence."

Fidesz lawmaker Gabriella Selmeczi denied the bill was discriminatory or anti-liberal.

"True liberalism is when children are left alone with questions about their sexual orientation until the age of 18," Selmeczi, who was among the team that introduced the legislation, told AP.

Orban and the Fidesz party, which promotes a strongly Christian-conservative agenda, have ramped up their attacks against the LGBTQ community ahead of Hungary's 2022 elections.

In 2020, Orban's government banned gender recognition and banned same-sex couples from adopting. Last July, a European court ruled that Hungary must recognize gender identity.

Orban has won three consecutive landslide elections since 2010. However, Reuters reported that for the first time, opposition parties have caught up with the leading party in opinion polls.