Fidesz, the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, described the legislation as part of an effort to protect children from pedophilia.
But LGBT rights activists denounced the bills as discriminatory, with some comparing the proposed legislation to a 2013 Russian law banning gay “propaganda.” Human rights groups have described Russian law as a tool of discrimination and harassment.
“These proposals, which have dark echoes of Russia’s anti-gay ‘propaganda law,’ will further stigmatize LGBTI people, exposing them to further discrimination in what is already a hostile environment,” said David Vig, director of Amnesty International Hungary. He used the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.
Fidesz presented the legislation to the Hungarian Parliament on Thursday. It includes a measure aimed at combating child abuse along with several amendments that prohibit the transmission of information about LGBT people or same-sex relationships.
The bills are scheduled to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday. They are expected to pass easily given that Fidesz has a majority in parliament.
“Labeling these amendments to a bill that seeks to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to combine pedophilia with LGBTI people,” Vig said on Friday.
Luca Dudits, a member of the executive board of the Hatter Society, a Budapest-based LGBT rights group, said there is no similar law anywhere in the European Union “that is so hostile” to lesbians, gays, bisexuals. and transsexuals.
“We are very concerned about the outcome,” Dudits told The Associated Press by phone.
Gabriella Selmeczi, a Fidesz legislator who is among those who introduced the legislation, denied that it is discriminatory or illiberal.
“True liberalism is when children are left alone with questions about their sexual orientation until they are 18 years old,” he said.
In the past, the Orban government has described migrants as a serious threat to Hungary and the nation’s Christian identity, an issue the prime minister has used successfully to win past elections. With the upcoming elections scheduled for 2022, and fewer immigrants entering Europe, the ruling party has increasingly portrayed the LGBT rights movement as a threat.
Human Rights Watch denounced the legislation, saying that “the Orban government has tried to scapegoat LGBT people as part of a broader strategy to circumvent human rights obligations and cement Orban’s type of authoritarianism.”
The law prohibits making pornographic content available to anyone under the age of 18, “as well as content that represents sexuality itself, or promotes or shows deviations from the identity of the sex of birth, gender reassignment or homosexuality.”
The ban also applies to advertising and education.
Marton Pal, a representative of the Foundation for Rainbow Families who adopted children with his same-sex partner, described his surprise at learning of the new bills on Thursday.
“Yesterday was a difficult day. We went to sleep in a lot of anger,” Pal told Hungarian television channel RTL. “When we read these amendments to the law, we are left breathless by what is happening around us and why this stigma exists. We are trying to process what opportunity this law creates for power.”