Brussels (Brussels Morning) Several thousand Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest on Monday, protesting a law aiming to ban “promotion or portrayal” of homosexuality or sex reassignment surgery, in an echo of a similar Russian law used to stop educational programmes and publicity about LGBT groups in the country.
The loosely phrased law means it could be applied to any mention of homosexuality if made available to under-18-year-olds. This would include literature, educational materials or advertisements. Critics point out that the law is effectively suppressing LGBT people under the pretence of protecting children.
An estimated 5,000 protesters rallied outside of the Hungarian parliament on Monday, AFP reported, in a protest organised by several rights groups including Amnesty International. The law is set to be voted into power today, and will almost certainly pass with the support of the ruling Fidesz party, despite most opposition parties announcing plans to boycott the vote.
Protecting the children
Initially presented as an anti-paedophilia law, a pretence used to garner public support, the bill was gradually amended to include provisions banning the “promotion” of homosexuality, in a widely criticised practice that insinuates a connection between homosexuality and paedophilia, which is often resorted to by far-right parties seeking to clamp down on LGBT rights.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, re-elected with landslide votes since 2010, has focused his policy on demonising migrants and minorities, tolerating anti-Semitism, and presenting himself as the protector of European Christian values.
He faces harsh criticism from local and international rights groups, as well as the EU, for his politicisation of the courts and the media, while stamping down on independent voices and a free press. His pursuit of so-called “illiberal democracy” culminated in his party leaving the European People’s Party (EPP) in March this year, pre-empting its imminent expulsion from the group.