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Hungary passes chilling anti-LGBT+ law putting the UK’s Section 28 to shame

Lily Wakefield June 15, 2021
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thousands protest outside Hungary's parliament against a bill which has now passed, banning the mention of LGBT+ people in schools

On 14 June, 2021, thousands protested outside Hungary's parliament against a bill which has now passed, banning the mention of LGBT+ people in schools and in the media. (AFP via Getty/ GERGELY BESENYEI)

Lawmakers in Hungary have passed a bill that bans any discussion of LGBT+ people in schools and in the media, in an almost unanimous vote.

On Tuesday (15 June), the country’s National Assembly passed the legislation, an amendment to an anti-paedophilia law, in a 157-1 vote.

The bill was submitted to parliament last week by Hungary’s right-wing party Fidesz, led by anti-LGBT+ prime minister Viktor Orbán, which holds a parliamentary majority.

It was also strongly backed by the right-wing Jobbik party, which in 2012 proposed a bill to ban the “promotion of sexual deviations”, threatening those found guilty of prison sentences of up to eight years.

Just a single independent lawmaker voted against it.

The new law makes it illegal to depict or discuss different gender identities and sexual orientations in schools, and also bans any LGBT+ content in advertising or media which could be seen by minors. It also establishes a government-approved list of organisations which are allowed to provide sex education in schools.

Director of Amnesty International Hungary, David Vig, said in a statement: “This is a dark day for LGBT+ rights and for Hungary… This new legislation will further stigmatise LGBT+ people and their allies.

“It will expose people already facing a hostile environment to even greater discrimination.”

He added: “Tagging these amendments to a bill that seeks to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to conflate paedophilia with LGBT+ people.”

The legislation in Hungary has been compared to Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban, as well as to Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 in the UK, which banned the “promotion” of LGBT+ issues in schools.

 

Responding to the vote, Hungarian LGBT+ rights organisation Háttér Társaság said in a statement that it was “eerily similar” to the “gay propaganda” ban in Russia, “which, in addition to inciting hatred against the LGBT+ community, also makes scientific dialogue and outreach work related to queer and transgender people impossible”.

It continued: “The amendment also clearly violates the right to freedom of expression, human dignity and equal treatment.

“This move endangers the mental health of LGBT+ youth and adults, and prevents them from accessing information and support in a timely, preventative manner. LGBT+ people have the right to live as members of society with equal dignity, without stigma and oppressive taboos.”

The day before the vote, thousands of people protested outside Hungarian parliament urging politicians to reject the law, and a petition against it was signed by more than 100,000 people.

This proved, Háttér Társaság said, that the law was being “forced on people without society’s support, in the hope of profiting from incitement to hatred”.

Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony wrote on Facebook: “On this shameful day, the opposition’s place is not in the parliament but on the streets.”

Opposition lawmaker Anna Donáth called on the EU to take immediate action against the bill, telling The Guardian: “The law is incompatible with the fundamental values of European democratic societies as well as the values of the Hungarian citizens and is only the latest of many shameful attacks on LGBT+ rights by Viktor Orbán’s government.

“We need more European examples and more acceptance instead of Russian examples of propaganda laws.”

Related topics: gay propaganda, Hungary, Section 28, viktor orban

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