NewsWhat do we know about Hungary's anti-LGBT law that...

What do we know about Hungary's anti-LGBT law that slipped into the Eurocup

A controversial law in Hungary that prohibits talking to minors about homosexuality has occupied the discussion in Europe, not only within the European Union (EU), but also on the soccer fields where the Eurocup is played.

The legislation, approved by Budapest last week, has unleashed new tensions with the EU, calling it “shame”, while the ultranationalist Hungarian government spoke of “false allegations” and assured that it only aims to protect young people.

“This law clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. It goes against all the fundamental values of the EU,” said European Commission President Von der Leyen of Hungary’s new rule, which has also been harshly criticized. by at least 15 EU countries.

This law has been the most controversial issue surrounding the Germany-Hungary match, which closes the group stage of the Eurocup. The Allianz Arena stadium – in Munich – was to be illuminated in the colors of the rainbow as a protest against the legislation. Faced with UEFA’s refusal, the city government chose to illuminate the rest of its public buildings with these colors.

Here’s what we know about this legislation, the latest measure against the LGBTQ community during the far-right Viktor Orban government.

What does the law say?

On June 15, Hungary banned the “promotion” of homosexuality among minors in a law that raises concern in human rights associations, who fear that the law, under the supposed umbrella of “protecting the rights of children.” , cancel sex and gender education programs or censor books, series or movies where homosexuality is evoked.

“Pornography and content that represents sexuality or promotes the deviation of gender identity, sex change or homosexuality should not be accessible to persons under 18 years of age,” says the text consulted by the AFP agency.

The law was approved by 157 votes in favor and one against in Parliament, controlled by Orban’s Fidesz party, during a session broadcast live by the media that was boycotted by much of the opposition.

Thousands of people protested on June 14 at night in the streets of Budapest to denounce this “permanent propaganda” of the government against the LGBT community.

Orban, who promised to establish a cultural “new era” to defend Christian and traditional values, hardened legislation against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout his term.

In practice, the law may imply that sexual education programs or advertising by multinational companies in solidarity with sexual minorities are not authorized, as well as a compilation of stories and legends de-dramatizing homosexuality that angered the power in autumn 2020. The Prime Minister Orban then asked “to leave the children alone.”

Civil society organizations for the defense of human rights fear that this implies the prohibition of series such as Friends and films such as Briget Jones , Harry Potter or Billy Elliot , where homosexuality is evoked.

“The text of the law is, by the way, very ambiguous,” says Zsolt Szekeres, representative of the Helsinki committee (HHC), a human rights organization.

Although he assures that they still do not know “entirely the consequences” of the law, Szekeres is sure that its approval “will cool the organizers” of events. “How to make sure that what I say will not reach the ears of a minor or that a child will not pass through the street during Gay Pride?” He said.

“These proposals will further stigmatize the LGBT community, exposing it to greater discrimination in an already hostile environment,” said David Vig, the director of Amnesty International in Hungary, who sees proximity to the Russian law that prohibits any act of ” “homosexual propaganda aimed at the youngest.”

The fines are stipulated along with an arsenal of measures to protect minors and to combat pedophilia, a mixture of concepts denounced by protesters on Monday.

These include the creation of a database of convicted persons accessible to the public or the prohibition of their working in certain professions.

A “grotesque” law for the EU

Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Ireland on Tuesday condemned Hungary for this law.

The law, which prohibits the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among those under the age of 18, violates EU values, the German minister for European Affairs said, amid deep concern that Hungary and Poland violate the law. Rule of Law by trampling on the freedoms of courts, academics and the media, as well as by restricting the rights of women, immigrants and minorities.

“The European Union is not primarily a single market or a monetary union. We are a community of values, these values unite us all,” Michael Roth told reporters. “There should be no doubt that minorities, including sexual ones, should be treated with respect.”

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg issued a joint statement condemning the latest legal changes promoted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, considering them a violation of the right to freedom of expression and a “flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation. ”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Hungarian law “wrong” on Wednesday. “I think that this law is wrong” and is “incompatible with my idea of politics,” said the person in charge before the German deputies.

The Swedish minister called the Hungarian law “grotesque”, while her Dutch counterpart asked Budapest to annul it and her Irish counterpart said the European Commission must sue it in the EU’s highest court. Austria said it is a mistake to include anti-LGBTQ provisions in a bill criminalizing pedophilia.

“I am very worried. (…) It is a mistake what has happened there and it has to stop,” said Irishman Thomas Byrne. “This is a very dangerous time for Hungary, and also for the EU.”

A member of the European Union since 2004, whose charter of fundamental rights prohibits all discrimination based on sexual orientation, Hungary is regularly accused by Brussels of violating the rule of law.

“We cannot let our fellow citizens think that on such fundamental issues, Europe is à la carte. And that is why we will defend them firmly,” assured the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune.

Before Orban’s return to power in 2010, it was one of the most progressive countries in the region, where homosexuality had been decriminalized since the early 1960s and civil unions between people of the same sex had been recognized since 1996.

The Hungarian reaction

Heading into next year’s elections, Orbán has become increasingly radical on social policy, in a self-proclaimed struggle to safeguard what he says are traditional Christian values against Western liberalism.

But Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto pointed out that the law is only aimed at pedophiles.

“The law protects children in a way that makes the education of their children in matters of sexual orientation up to the age of 18 an exclusive right of parents,” he said. “This law says nothing about the sexual orientation of adults.”

In a statement issued today in Budapest, the Hungarian government said that Von der Leyen’s criticism is a “shame, since it is based on false allegations.”

The new law “protects the rights of minors, guarantees the rights of parents and does not affect the rights of sexual orientation of those who are over 18 years of age, so it does not contain any discriminatory element,” says the official note.

In addition, the government of ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán accuses the president of the Commission of having “issued a biased political opinion without having previously carried out an independent investigation.”

Protests against the law

Last week thousands of people protested against the law in central Budapest and so far more than 130,000 Hungarians have signed a petition calling for it to be annulled.

The progressive opposition, groups for the defense of LGTBI rights and the few media not controlled by the Government qualify the law as homophobic by linking homosexuality with pedophilia.

The law tries to “eradicate the existence of people from the LGTB + collective,” Luca Dudits, from the board of Háttér, the largest organization for the rights of the LGTBI community in Hungary, told Efe today.

He added that this will mean that the LGTB + community “will not have any representation in the media, or education and information programs that help address the harassment suffered by LGTB youth in schools.”

For these reasons, Háttér is working to take the case to the “highest levels” while waiting for “the European Union to act urgently,” concluded Dudits.

Schools, media and Eurocup

Many Hungarian teachers have shared in recent days on social networks a text in which they assure that they will ignore the law and that they will speak in their institutes about homosexuality to persons under 18 years of age.

“I will speak to minors about LGTB + issues, and I will also tell them that living life with one’s own identity is one of the conditions of spiritual health,” they affirm.

Some media have also criticized the law, highlighting that if they abide by its prohibitions, films like Harry Potter must be shown after 10 p.m. and marked as not suitable for minors.

The controversy has even had an impact on the current Eurocup, since the Munich city hall, where Hungary plays this Wednesday against Germany, has proposed to illuminate the Allianz Arena stadium with the colors of the rainbow, as a protest against the law.

UEFA finally did not authorize Munich to illuminate its stadium, but in the stands and around the Allianz Arena there will be hundreds of rainbow flags.

From the head of German diplomacy to the French presidency, numerous European capitals criticized UEFA’s refusal to allow the Munich stadium, which will host tonight’s game, to be lit up in the rainbow colors of the LGBT community.

By denying the city of Munich its request to illuminate its stadium with rainbow colors, UEFA sparked criticism and sparked a solidarity movement in Germany.

To try to calm the storm, UEFA, organizer of the competition that takes place in 11 cities in different countries, reaffirmed its “firm commitment” against homophobia and dressed its logo with rainbow colors on Twitter.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia tried to defend himself from the criticism by denouncing “populist” initiatives by people who “too often try to use sports associations for their own ends.”

Without attacking him head-on, he could refer to the mayor of Munich, the Social Democrat Dieter Reiter. He was the one who asked to illuminate the Allianz Arena, before denouncing a “shameful” rejection by UEFA.

The city hall of the Bavarian capital sported six large rainbow flags on two floors of its façade, while an imposing wind turbine visible from the stadium will be illuminated at night.

Several Bundesliga stadiums will also be illuminated with rainbows tonight, from Frankfurt to Cologne, via Wolfsburg, Augsburg and the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

A history of anti-LGBT restrictions

Since coming to power in 2010, the Orbán government has adopted several laws that limit LGTB + rights and some pro-government politicians have publicly launched homophobic messages.

In the 2011 Constitution, approved by the Orbán executive thanks to its two-thirds majority in Parliament, it is determined that marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.

The president of the Parliament, László Kövér, came to compare homosexual couples who want to adopt with pedophiles.

Orbán himself said after banning the adoption of children by same-sex couples that “Hungary is a country that is tolerant and patient with homosexuality, as long as our children are left alone.”

And in May 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian government approved a law that prohibits transsexuals from changing their names after changing their sex.

And human rights? Qatar has arrested and mistreated LGBT people before the World Cup

The organization charges that transgender women have been forced to attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored clinic.

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