Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday passed a law prohibiting the sharing of content portraying homosexuality and transgenderism to those under the age of 18.
Hungary’s National Assembly approved the bill called “Proposal to the Legislative Committee to amend the law on stricter action against pedophile offenders and to amend certain laws to protect children” in a 157-1 vote. The law was supported by Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Alliance), which holds the parliamentary majority, and lawmakers from the conservative Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) party. One independent lawmaker voted against it, and the rest of the 42 parliamentarians abstained.
The law was included in a larger bill intended to crack down on pedophilia by creating a register of child-sex offenders, implementing stricter punishments for child pornography, and barring pedophile offenders from jobs where they would encounter children. Now, the promotion of many sex-related topics that may sexualize and corrupt children are banned as well.
A spokesperson for the Hungarian government, Dr. Zoltan Kovac explained that “There are contents which children under a certain age can misunderstand and which may have a detrimental effect on their development at the given age, or which children simply cannot process, and which could therefore confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world.”
The legislation includes several critical elements aimed at protecting children:
- According to the bill, “in order to ensure the protection of children’s rights under this Act, pornography and content depicting sexuality … and displays deviation from gender identity, gender reassignment, and homosexuality is prohibited.” The law specifies that the state “protects the birth sex of children.”
- It is prohibited to use “educational material” or lectures on promotion of homosexuality, gender reassignment, and sexual discrimination in schools.
- More liberal NGOs will be restricted or banned from participating in sexual education. Only government-approved and reliable individuals and organizations could give lectures on sexual education, the prevention of drug use, promotion of safe Internet use, and other studies and activities aimed at the development of physical and mental health of students. The provision is clearly aimed at certain NGOs backed by George Soros that actively advocate a “free society” agenda, including LGBTQ and trans propaganda to children. The bill states that “organizations with dubious professional backgrounds … often established for the representation of specific sexual orientations” will be excluded from the school sessions on children’s moral development.
- Advertisement, television news and programs, and movies that portray sexuality or promote homosexuality and gender reassignment should be made unavailable to anyone under the age of 18. Television stations and streaming platforms will only be able to target such content at adults.
Gergely Arato, an opposition lawmaker, said the changes “violate the standards of parliamentary democracy, rule of law and human rights,” even though it is unclear how protecting children’s innocence from sexual content could have such dreadful implications.
Thousands of LGBTQ activists held a protest in Budapest on Monday in an unsuccessful effort to stop the legislation from passing.
Dunja Mijatovic, the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, also had asked Hungarian lawmakers to reject the legislation, saying it reinforced prejudice against LGBT people.
A gay rights organization in Hungary, Budapest Pride, has called on U.S. president Joe Biden to discuss the matter with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, when the two meet at the NATO summit in Brussels on Tuesday.
Hungarian and international companies, including Google and ViacomCBS have condemned the ban, saying it would fuel discrimination and harm business.
The Orbán administration, aka Hungarian Trump, which is viewed by critics as authoritarian and far-right, remains one of the islands of traditional values in ultra-liberal Europe. Unlike most other EU nations, gay marriage is illegal in Hungary. Orbán’s government recently banned same-sex couples from legally adopting children and tightened the definition of the marriage and the family unit.
The government-sponsored constitutional Ninth Amendment declares, succinctly and clearly, that a child’s parents are “the mother, a woman, and the father, a man.” It defines family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relation.” The gender of a child is determined at birth and cannot be changed later. The amendment also reinforces the independence of “public foundations that carry out public tasks,” such as church-affiliated schools, from the government.
Orbán also noted that “Hungary is a tolerant, patient country with regard to homosexuality. But there is a red line that must not be crossed: Leave our children alone!”
Similar laws, banning teaching and propaganda of LGBTQ issues in schools have been passed in Russia in 2013, and in Poland in 2020.