Hungary’s parliament on Tuesday passed a law banning the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and transgender issues, amid fierce criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties.
Die-hard nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, who faces elections next year, has become increasingly radical on social policy, attacking LGBTQ people and immigrants in his so-called illiberal regime, which has deeply divided the Hungarians.
His party Fidesz, which promotes a Christian-conservative agenda, added the proposal banning school discussions on LGBTQ issues to a separate and widely supported bill that strictly criminalizes pedophilia, making it much harder for opponents to vote. against.
The move, which critics say wrongly associates pedophilia with LGBTQ issues, sparked a mass rally outside parliament on Monday, as several rights groups called on Fidesz to withdraw the bill.
Fidesz lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the legislation on Tuesday, while left-wing opposition parties boycotted the vote.
Under the amendments submitted to the bill last week, those under the age of 18 cannot see any content that encourages gender transition or homosexuality. This also applies to advertisements. The law establishes a list of organizations authorized to provide sexuality education in schools.
Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Hungary and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children. Orban’s government redefined marriage as the union between a man and a woman in the constitution and limited the adoption of homosexuals.
Critics drew a parallel between the new legislation and the 2013 Russian law that banned the dissemination of “propaganda about non-traditional sex” among young Russians.
Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Fidesz’s main ally in the European Union, has taken an equally critical stance on LGBTQ issues. Budapest and Warsaw disagree with the European Union on some of their conservative reforms.
European Parliament rapporteur on the situation in Hungary Greens MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield criticized the new law on Tuesday: “Using child protection as an excuse to target LGBTIQ people hurts all children in Hungary “.
Orban has won three successive landslides in elections since 2010, but opposition parties have now joined forces for the first time and have caught up with Fidesz in opinion polls.
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