EC to Investigate Hungarian Ban on Mention of LGBTIQ Topics in Schools or to Under 18s

Hungary has passed a law banning the inclusion of anything that could be considered as promoting homosexuality with anyone under 18.

Under the new rules, LGBTIQ people cannot feature in any school or educational materials or TV shows made for those under 18. The law was spearheaded by the Fidesz party headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and it was passed by 157 votes to one.

Some politicians boycotted the vote, but there was little doubt that Fidesz would win, due to their healthy majority and support from the far-right Jobbik party.

The law states that its illegal to share any information with anyone under 18 that could be construed as promoting homosexuality or gender change. This includes teachers being allowed to discuss homosexuality or transgender issues.

“There are contents which children under a certain age can misunderstand and which may have a detrimental effect on their development at the given age, or which children simply cannot process, and which could therefore confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world,” a spokesman for the government said.

Companies will also be prohibited from running adverts in solidarity with the LGBTIQ community, if they are deemed as targeting under 18s.

The European Commission will investigate the law, as announced by EC Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen.

We are assessing if it breaches relevant EU legislation. I believe in a Europe which embraces diversity, not one which hides it from our children. No one should be discriminated against based on sexual orientation, she wrote on Twitter.

Hungary has become increasingly hostile to members of the LGBTI community under the Fidesz party. Meanwhile, in December 2020, a member of Fidesz, Jozsef Szajer, who represents Hungary in European Parliament was caught fleeing a “gay sex party” in Brussels. Prosecutors say he was found in possession of drugs while running off by shimmying down a drainpipe.

The EC recently initiated infringement procedures against Hungary over their treatment of an independent radio station. Klubradio was taken off the air in February after a court decision was upheld not to extend its broadcasting license.

Vera Jourova, Vice President for Values and Transparency at the European Commission, tweeted that they had clearly warned Hungarian authorities for their actions and had asked them to find a solution so that the station could continue broadcasting. As they did not, the EC will start telecoms rules infringement procedures.

She added: “We use all the means at our disposal to defend media freedom. But too often there is no tool available. This is why we need to work on a Media Freedom Act to recognize the key role of independent media for democracy and addressing attacks against them.”