Author: Martina Morabito
- On June 15th, the Hungarian parliament has passed a new Paedophilia act that spread criticisms all over Europe, because it banned the portrayal of homosexuality or sex reassignment for minors under the age of 18.
The original version of the bill aimed to increase the criminal impact of paedophilia and did not address sexual minorities in any way. The criminal reform of sexual offences against minors became a hot political issue after the scandal surrounding the former Hungarian ambassador to Peru. However, the Fidesz MP changed the draft at the last minute before the final vote on the Anti-paedophilia law was scheduled.
These new amendments resulted in an act that outlaws “promoting or portraying” homosexuality or sex reassignment to minors and restricts sexual education in schools. Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from accessing pornographic or media content that encourages gender reassignment, gender deviation, or homosexuality.
This also applies to advertisements, which can only show radio and television commercials between 10 PM and 5 AM. The law suggests that a list be drawn up of organizations authorized to run sex education courses in schools. Human rights education courses on the subject of “sexual orientation” can only be held in schools if they respect Hungary’s “constitutional identity” and its Christian culture and do not promote consensual same-sex behaviour or the affirmation of gender.
What it implies?
In Hungarian law, there is no legal definition of “portraying and promoting”.
The government claims this law is intended to protect children. However, some critics have observed that these amendments law leads to the association of homosexuality and gender diversity with paedophilia.
It firstly violates the rights to freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights to which Hungary is a party. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to seek and receive information and ideas of all kinds, including “information on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity”.In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges states to ensure “children’s access to information and materials from various national and international sources”.
The new provisions pick up on any debate about diversity and appear to be due in part to efforts by artists and advertisers to promote the inclusion and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities.
Hungary’s Paedophilia Act introduces provisions in the Child Protection Act, Business Advertising Act, Media Act, Family Protection Act, and Public Education Act that provide administrative penalties for professional bodies or institutions violating this Act and violate the right to education and the right to health, including the express right to health information under international law.
These amendments are the latest in a series of attacks on LGBT rights. In December 2020, Parliament banned same-sex couples from adopting children. it also passed a law preventing people from legally changing their gender.
Hungary also does not recognize same-sex marriage. The Hungarian Constitution states, “The mother is a woman and the father is a man”.
Reactions against the law
Critics did not delay arrival from European regional organisations. The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, described the legislation as an “affront against the rights and identities of LGBTI persons” that curtailed freedom of expression and education of all Hungarians. “The proposed legislative amendments run counter to international and European human rights standards. It is misleading and false to claim that they are being introduced to protect children.”
The Venice Commission, which is an advisory group on constitutional matters to Council of Europe members, found that the laws make “the legal recognition of gender of trans and intersex people unconstitutional and therefore impossible”. Therefore, it “is incompatible with international human rights standards”.
‘This constitutional amendment should not be used as an opportunity to withdraw existing laws on the protection of individuals who are not heterosexuals, or to amend these laws to their disadvantage,’ it said in analysis and opinion on the laws.
As the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights has observed, “authorities have a positive obligation to take effective measures to protect and ensure the respect of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons who wish to … express themselves, even if their views are unpopular or not shared by the majority of the population.”
EU leaders have also slammed the law. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, calling it a “shame”, found that “this legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation”.
The EU has widely criticised this law for violating Article 21 of the Organization’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states, “stigmatizing LGBTIQ persons constitute a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, as provided for in the EU Charter and international law.”
The European Union has initiated a” rule of law action” against the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree, “there is a clear risk of serious violation” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights. The EU Treaty states that the bloc “is based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.
To counter European pressure, three days before the Pride March in Budapest on Saturday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that his government would hold a national referendum on “child protection”. It will consist of five questions such as “Do you support the unrestricted display of media content of a sexual nature that is likely to influence their development, to show minors without restrictions?” This would also include asking Hungarians whether they support running workshops on sexual orientation in schools or whether they think that gender reassignment procedure should be discussed among children.