Hungary plans to ban ‘promoting’ homosexuality to under-18s

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FILE – In this Saturday, July 6 2013 file photo participants walk down Andrassy Street under a giant rainbow flag during the 18th Budapest Gay Pride March in Budapest, Hungary. Fidesz, the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, tabled amendments in Parliament on Thursday, June 12 to new legislation that bans showing to people under 18 pornographic materials or any content encouraging gender change or homosexuality. The party describes the new legislation as part of an effort to protect children from pedophilia. But LGBT rights activists denounced the bills as discriminatory, with some comparing it to a 2013 Russian law banning so-called gay “propaganda.”(AP Photo/MTI, Imre Foldi, file)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s governing conservative party has prepared new legislation that bans showing pornographic material of any kind, or any content encouraging gender change or homosexuality to anyone under 18.

The party describes the new 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, the governing party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, tabled the legislation in the Hungarian Parliament on Thursday. It includes a bill aimed at fighting child abuse along with various amendments prohibiting transmitting information about same-sex relationships.

The bills are scheduled to be debated on Monday and 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.

Gabriella Selmeczi, a lawmaker with Fidesz who is among those who introduced the legislation, denied that it is discriminatory or anti-liberal.

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“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 seized on to win elections in the past. With new elections in 2022, and the migrant flow into Europe much lower than in past years, the ruling party has increasingly depicted the LGBT rights movement as a threat.

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.

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.”

This also applies to advertisements and education.

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