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Hungary's anti-LGBTQ law comes into effect

July 8, 2021

Hungary has banned information about LGBTQ issues for minors. Critics say the widely controversial law conflates homosexuality with pedophilia.

Demonstrators wave rainbow flags in Budapest.
The new law prompted protests in Budapest when it was approved by lawmakers in JuneImage: Marton Monus/REUTERS

A new Hungarian law that prohibits "promoting" LGBTQ content to young people comes into effect on Thursday.

The controversial legislation has sparked a chorus of criticism, with European Union institutions threatening to take action against Hungary.

What is Hungary's anti-LGBTQ law?

The restriction on young people's access to information about LGBTQ is part of a broader "Anti-Pedophilia Act," which originally focused on tougher penalties against child abuse. 

But the Hungarian parliament last month passed the bill with further amendments, including a ban on sex education and media content.

The law prohibits the "display or promotion" of homosexuality or gender reassignment in educational material or TV shows for people under 18.

Balazs Hidveghi, a Hungarian MEP from the ruling Fidesz party, told DW that the law was "solely" to protect children.

"It does not concern adults. It does not concern how they want to live their lives. It does not concern what information they get. It does not concern even the operation of LGBT groups. They are free to operate, but they have nothing to do in kindergartens and in schools." 

It is unclear what punishments would be given if the law is broken or what constitutes LGBTQ content due to the law's vague wording. But some fear that even the display of rainbow flags in public could be punishable.

What is the reaction in Hungary? 

DW correspondent in Budapest, Fanny Facsar, said Hungarian society is "quite split over this law." 

Some people support the law regardless of their party affiliation, Facsar said, "they themselves do not understand what transgender life or homosexual life is about, so why would their children under 18 learn about this?" 

On the other hand, critics of the law say that it is crucial to educate children on sexuality from a young age and teach them that "life is very diverse," Facsar added. 

Andrea Sztraka, an LGBTQ activist in Budapest, told DW that there was "enormous hatred" spreading against members of the LGBTQ community in Hungary. 

Sztraka said that while Prime Minister Victor Orban argued that the law was to protect children, "he's doing exactly the opposite" by turning sexuality into a taboo.  

"What would he say to children who cannot accept themselves... because they cannot bear the hatred and the bullying that they receive because they are members of the LGBTQ community," Sztraka added.

What is the EU saying about the law?

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called the law a "disgrace." She said it equates homosexuality and gender reassignment with pornography, and "uses the protection of children... as an excuse to severely discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.''

An overwhelming majority of members of the European Parliament were expected to vote in favor of a resolution demanding the EU fast-tracks legal action against Hungary.

fb/rt (AFP, AP)