Thousands protested outside Hungary’s national parliament in Budapest on Monday, decrying legislation that bans discussions or depictions of homosexuality or gender transition in schools and in the media.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist, has ramped up political attacks targeting the LGBTQ community — as well as immigrants and other ethnic groups — ahead of the 2022 elections next year, in hope that an appeal on culturally divisive issues will help his Fidesz party stay in power.
Fidesz has claimed that LGBTQ activists and others are attempting to corrupt minors, employing homophobic tropes about gay men, in particular, as predators whose influence can potentially harm the “physical, mental, and moral development.”
Orban’s government previously redefined marriage in the constitution as the union between one man and one woman, limited the ability of same-sex couples to adopt, and revoked legal recognition of transgender individuals. The protest marked the second as six opposition parties have banded together in hopes of defeating Orban and his allies, reports Reuters.
At Monday’s protest, several people waved rainbow flags and compared the law unfavorably to a 2013 Russian statute that bans the propagation of “propaganda” about non-traditional sexual relations, or Polish government reforms that have created so-called “LGBT-free” zones in parts of the country in recent years.
“This is horrible and inhumane,” protester Dominika Pandzsa told Reuters. “They are trying to strip people of all their rights. This would lock some kids in the closet, and they should be given the opportunity to come out.”
Momentum, one of the opposition parties, urged a boycott of the vote, saying the law would endanger the LGBTQ community.
“The Russian template gives us a clear picture of the effect such hate-mongering has on a society,” Momentum chairman Andras Fekete-Gyor said in a statement. “Violence against the LGBTQ community is common there, from authorities and compatriots.”
Hatter, an LGBTQ rights group, urged members of parliament not to vote for the bill on Tuesday, which would apply to advertising as well as reports and school curriculum. But most lawmakers were reticent to vote against the provision, which was added as an amendment to a bill purporting to fight pedophilia, and the bill received overwhelming support.
Hatter also noted that the United Nations has previously called out Hungary for its anti-LGBTQ attitudes.
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the deputy chairwoman of the Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, who hails from France, slammed the newly approved law, saying: “Using child protection as an excuse to target LGBTIQ people is damaging to all children in Hungary.”
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