Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: the Hungarian Parliament Building and PM Viktor Orbán (Wiki)
Hungary's ruling political party has proposed new anti-LGBTQ censorship legislation comparable to Russia's infamous 'gay propaganda law'.
Introduced in 2013, the still-active Russian federal law "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values" effectively bans positive representation of LGBTQ life to minors.
Hungary's version, submitted to parliament by the Fidesz party last Thursday (10 June) and to be debated today, would amend an existing law punishing pedophilia.
"Russian-style attack on freedom of speech"
The law from the Christian-conservative party Fidesz - led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - has been proposed ahead of next year's general election and would make it illegal to disseminate content relating to gender transition and homosexuality to under-18s.
It would also ban the "portrayal and promotion of gender identity different from sex assigned at birth, the change of sex and homosexuality" in public service advertisements for persons under 18.
In a statement, a rep for Háttér Society ('one of the oldest and largest LGBTQI NGOs in Hungary', according to its site) called the proposal a "Russian-style attack on freedom of speech and children’s rights."
They added: "In an attempt to strengthen its Eastern ties and serve foreign economic needs, Fidesz would be willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and the concerns of LGBTQI children. The Hungarian government frequently vetoes the European Union’s declarations against the totalitarian regimes of China and Russia, while copying their antidemocratic ways, which goes against those European values that most Hungarian citizens consider important. Now, further mimicking China and Russia, the government would turn on its own citizens."
Elsewhere in the statement, the rep continued: "Out of Hungarian LGBTQI people 42% have thought about suicide, and 30% have attempted it. Research by ILGA-Europe has also shown that LGBTQI youth commit suicide mostly because they find their situation hopeless: the exclusion and harassment they experience within the family, in education, or in their peer or religious community is considered unbearable.
"The Hungarian state is now planning to intensify the suffering of LGBTQI youth, following in the footsteps of those autocratic states which the government has an increasingly friendly relationship with.
"We call on the government to withdraw the amendment, and the opposition not to vote on the bill in this form."
Hungary's next general election will likely take place in spring 2021.
A British law known as Section 28 prohibiting the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities and schools was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in 1988, and lasted until 2003. It is widely believed to have served as the inspiration for Russia's 'gay propaganda law'.