By BELA SZANDELSZKY and VANESSA GERA
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s governing conservative party has prepared new legislation that bans showing pornographic material and any content portraying or promoting sex reassignment or homosexuality to anyone under 18.
Fidesz, the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, described the legislation as part of an effort to protect children from pedophilia.
But LGBT rights activists denounced the bills as discriminatory, with some comparing the proposed legislation to a 2013 Russian law banning gay “propaganda.” Human rights groups have described the Russian law as a tool of discrimination and harassment.
“These proposals, which have dark echoes of Russia’s anti-gay ‘propaganda law,’ will further stigmatize LGBTI people, exposing them to greater discrimination in what is already a hostile environment,” said David Vig, director of Amnesty International Hungary. He used the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
Fidesz submitted the legislation to the Hungarian Parliament on Thursday. It includes a measure aimed at fighting child abuse along with various amendments prohibiting transmitting information about LGBT people or same-sex relationships.
The bills are scheduled to be debated Monday and to be voted on Tuesday. They are expected to pass easily given that Fidesz has a majority in parliament.
“Tagging these amendments to a bill that seeks to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to conflate pedophilia with LGBTI people,” Vig said Friday.
Luca Dudits, an executive board member with the Háttér Society, a Budapest-based LGBT rights group, said there is no similar law anywhere in the European Union “that is so hostile” to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
“We are very worried about the outcome,” Dudits told The Associated Press by phone.
Gabriella Selmeczi, a lawmaker with Fidesz who is among those who introduced the legislation, denied that it is discriminatory or anti-liberal.
“True liberalism is when children are left alone with questions about their sexual orientation until the age of 18,” she said.
Orban’s government in the past has depicted migrants as a grave threat to Hungary and the nation’s Christian identity, a theme the prime minister has successfully used to win past elections. With the next elections scheduled for 2022, and fewer migrants entering Europe, the ruling party has increasingly depicted the LGBT rights movement as a threat.
Human Rights Watch denounced the legislation, saying that “Orban’s government has sought to scapegoat LGBT people as part of a wider strategy to sidestep human rights obligations and cement Orban’s brand of authoritarianism.”
The legislation prohibits making pornographic content available to anyone under the age of 18, “as well as content that depicts sexuality for its own sake, or promotes or displays deviations from the identity of the sex of birth, gender reassignment or homosexuality.”
The ban also applies to advertisements and education.
Marton Pal, a representative of the Foundation for Rainbow Families who has adopted children with his same-sex partner, described his shock at learning of the new bills on Thursday.
“Yesterday was a hard day. We went to sleep with a lot of anger,” Pal told Hungarian TV channel RTL. “When we read these amendments to the law, we gasped for air at what is happening around us, and why there is this stigma. We are trying to process what opportunity this law creates for power.”