Hungary LGBTQ community decries push to limit homosexuality displays – POLITICO



Hungary’s LGBTQ community has accused Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government of further stoking homophobia with proposed legal changes that ban the promotion of homosexuality to minors. 

Rights groups say that the conservative ruling Fidesz party’s bill — which would impact advertising and education programs — is fanning the flames of hate in the country ahead of a 2022 general election. 

The latest proposal “clearly violates European and international law,” said Luca Dudits, an executive board member of Hungarian LGBTQ-rights group Háttér Society. 

The move comes after Hungary last year approved measures effectively barring same-sex couples from adopting children and preventing transgender individuals from legally changing their genders. 

Under the amendments put forward Thursday, promoting or displaying gender change or homosexuality to people under the age of 18 would become illegal. The plan also calls for the creation of a new list of groups which would be allowed to run sexual education programs in schools. 

Hungary’s government is “inciting hatred,” Dudits said, adding that “we will definitely challenge this.” 

Hungary is one of Europe’s least tolerant societies when it comes to the rights of sexual minorities. A 2019 Eurobarometer poll found that 53 percent of Hungarians disagreed with the statement that “there is nothing wrong in a sexual relationship between two persons of the same sex.” Some 46 percent of Hungarians disagreed with the notion that “gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexual people.”

The Fidesz party, which is facing a tough election season, has been placing an emphasis on its support for a traditional family model — and increasingly also employing rhetoric that rights activists have described as homophobic. 

One senior Fidesz party member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the aim of the proposed legal changes is to “keep the opposition under pressure.”

Some critics say the government — which has previously also been accused of using anti-Muslim, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric — is engaging in a pattern of targeting different segments of society for political gain. 

András Kádár, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a Budapest-based rights watchdog, said “the provisions banning the ‘promotion or display of homosexuality’ fit into the trend of hate-mongering policies this governing majority has adopted over the past years against various social groups.”

“Provisions like these should not be adopted or implemented,” he added. “They are harmful, shameful and violate fundamental rights.”

Despite growing concerns about anti-LGBTQ laws and rhetoric, rights groups did celebrate a small win over the government in March, when the Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled that the law prohibiting individuals from changing their gender in legal documents cannot apply to ongoing proceedings.

The Hungarian government did not respond to a request for comment.

Orbán has previously described his country as “tolerant.”

“We can safely say that as regards homosexuality Hungary is a patient, tolerant country,” the prime minister said in an interview last October. “But there is a red line that must not be crossed, and this is how I would sum up my opinion: ‘Leave our children alone.’” 

Late last year, the prime minister publicly denounced one of his closest political allies, MEP József Szájer, after the parliamentarian was caught in a lockdown-busting party with naked men and drugs. 

When asked in February what would happen if one of his children said they were homosexual, Orbán said that “it would be a major test, but so far the Good Lord has spared us that.”

He added: “Of course my wife and I would always love our children completely, regardless of their inclinations.” 



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