Hungary Faces Pushback After Passing Controversial LGBTQ+ Law

Premier Viktor Orbán encounters increasing criticism from the EU over legislation violating core European principles.

It’s been a month since Hungary has effectively prohibited LGBTQ+ content for minors under 18, categorizing anything that normalizes the notion of non-heterosexual norms to the younger generation as pedophilia. 

The new law was proposed by Orban in May, and includes a ban of the public screening of anything LGBTQ+ related, as well as barring teachers from educating students on homosexual relationships. The passing of the bill was not without resistance, leading to a petition with over 100,000 signatures and protests across Hungary. 

The European Union and several individual member states have not stayed silent on the matter, expressing solidarity and outrage. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the bill “a shame,” assuring that the European Commission will “use all the tools in the toolbox” to ensure fundamental rights are protected. As the executive arm of the EU, the commission has threatened to strip Hungary of their vote in Brussels and cut off funding, as discrimination based on sexual orientation goes against the core principles of the EU – specifically human dignity, equality and respect for human rights. 

Orbán has continuously rejected any allegations of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by defending the legislation on the grounds of parental autonomy, stating that “parents should have exclusive control over how they wish to educate their children about sex.” En route to a summit in Brussels late last month, he told a journalist from dpa that he was actually “defending the rights of the homosexuals,” because “in the communist regime, homosexuality was punished.” 

In an interview with the Ö1 Morgenjournal, Hungarian historian Krisztián Ungváry stressed that Orban’s self-claimed “tolerance and patience towards homosexuals” is, in fact, “not true at all,” going on to say that “this law puts homosexuality close to pedophilia, and that’s a problem in a traditional country on how to deal with homosexuality.” According to Ungváry, the effect of this law was clear: “It’s just an agitation against a minority.” 

Hungary’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights has also spilled into the sporting world, with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) launching investigations into Hungarian fans after reports of “racist and discriminatory” behavior at the recently held European Football Championships. Charges were issued after each of Hungary’s group games against France, Portugal and Germany, with fans allegedly heard singing offensive chants and bringing homophobic banners to the Hungary-Portugal game on the 15th of June and again to the Hungary-Germany game on the 23rd of June. 

The UEFA has been adamant at “staying out of political matters,” rejecting the request from Munich’s mayor to express solidarity by lighting up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in protest against Orbán’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, but eventually ruled against Hungary, ordering their national team to play their next three home games to an empty stadium. Hungary’s foreign minister responded by calling the UEFA a “pitiful and cowardly body.” The ban will not apply to qualifiers for the upcoming World Cup, so Hungarian fans will still be able to support their team in September against England and Andorra.

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Carolyn Lai
Carolyn grew up between Kuala Lumpur and Vienna. With a background in both music and politics, she enjoys writing stories on culture and social development. She is currently completing her undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Vienna.

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