EU must act! Hungary passes “un-European” anti-LGBTIQ+ laws


Hungary has approved Russia-style ‘anti-LGBTIQ+ propaganda’ laws that violate EU values (Pic: Alexandros Michailidis)

Lawmakers in Hungary have adopted a raft of amendments targeting LGBTIQ+ people that breach EU laws and put the union’s commitment to non-discrimination and tolerance to the test.

Approved by a majority of MPs on Tuesday, the amendments were tabled by the ruling conservative Fidesz party and affect several existing laws. They ignored the demands of hundreds of LGBTIQ+ rights demonstrators who gathered outside the parliament building in Budapest on Monday.

The legislation adds language to these laws limiting any affirming depiction or “promotion” of “gender identity different from sex at birth, the change of sex, and homosexuality” to persons under the age of 18.

Any LGBTIQ+ content or positive representation in the media will be classified as unsuitable for minors and will be banned in public service advertisements. Such topics also cannot be part of sex education and schools cannot invite external speakers or NGOs to address LGBTIQ+ issues unless they receive a special licence.

“With this vote, Hungary has adopted a Russian style anti-propaganda law that will effectively ban the representation or communication about diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and sex characteristics in the Hungarian public sphere, as well as specific places such as in schools,” commented Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe.

“This law clearly violates EU principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaties, as well as at least two EU directives,” said Paradis.

Human Rights Watch said that the legislation would have sweeping consequences for health providers, educators, and artists, among others.

The amendments are the latest in a series of attacks on LGBTIQ+ equality by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. In May, last year, lawmakers passed a bill blocking transgender and intersex people from amending their legal gender identity.

“Hungary’s ruling party is cynically deploying a ‘protection of children’ narrative to trample on rights and try to render LGBT people invisible,” said Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Children do not need to be protected from exposure to diversity. On the contrary, LGBT children and families need protection from discrimination and violence.”

Paradis insisted that “The European Commission can no longer turn a blind eye to the ongoing legislative attacks… but needs to use all instruments available to hold Hungary accountable for the respect of fundamental rights, including LGBTI rights.”

She added: “Hungary is violating fundamental rights with this new law and thus no EU funds should be paid out to Hungary before the law is withdrawn.”

Marc Angel, a Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of its LGBTI Intergroup, agreed that action must be taken.

“We call on the Member States to clearly address ongoing breaches of fundamental rights in order to have a reasoned discussion on the ongoing affronts against EU values and laws. Russia-style ‘anti-LGBTI propaganda’ laws have no place in our Union!” said Angel.

In March, the European Parliament declared the EU an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” but the move was largely symbolic. It remains to be seen what, if any, consequences Hungary will face from the EU for its continued erosion of LGBTIQ+ rights.

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