Conservative Trends in Hungary part 2: A new anti-LGBTQ law

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Conservative trends in Hungary part 2: A new anti-LGBTQ law

How is Hungary becoming more and more conservative? Analyst Ghila Amati tells you all about it in her weekly comment.

A new law
The Hungarian government under Viktor Orbán’s leadership has recently approved a new law that will ban the teaching and sharing of content regarding LGBTQ to children under age 18 in schools, films, or advertisements. This ‘Children Protection Act’ is supposed to protect children from paedophilia and increase their well-being in general.[1]

What are some of the implications of this new law?
This law may have huge consequences for commercial TV channels, since it impacts their ability to show programs such as Harry Potter, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Friends. These, and many other shows, can only be shown after 10 p.m. Moreover, shows like Modern Family, featuring a gay couple, would be completely banned according to TV channel RTL.[2] [3] [4]

The Hungarian government argues that the new law’s goal is to protect children and family values, not to discriminate against homosexuals. Still, the EU human rights watchdog warned the Hungarian government that this is a discriminatory law.[5] Other critics have also argued that the new law is discriminatory as it links homosexuality with paedophilia.[6]

The EU negative response to the law
In July 2021, the European Parliament approved legal action against Hungary’s new law. According to the parliament, the law is against “EU values, principles and law” and is part of the “gradual dismantling of fundamental rights in Hungary.” President Ursula von der Leyen stated that Europe will never allow a part of its society to be stigmatised.[7]

On his side, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán argued that this is an internal matter in Hungary and should not be of interest to “Brussels bureaucrats.”[8] Moreover, he stated that Hungary will not withdraw its laws, regardless of EU reactions and sanctions.[9] Orbán later announced in a live video on Facebook that he will hold a referendum on the anti-LGBTQ law.[10] At the same time, thousands of people marched in Budapest in favour of LGBTQ and as a sign of protest against the Hungarian law.[11]

Yet, even though the pro-LGBTQ movement is impressive, it seems to me that there may still be a silent conservative majority in Hungary. This may be the reason why Orbán is not afraid of a referendum, as he believes most of the country to be in favour of ‘traditional family values.’

Hungary is keeping up with its conservative trend
Previous conservative trends in Hungary, such as the ban on adoption for same-sex couples in December 2020; the obligation to include a content warning on children’s books that include LGBTQ families; and a May 2020 amendment to ban changing the legal gender in Hungary,[12] were examined in my previous weekly comment.

This new law is another step towards conservatism in the country and underlines that Hungary is keeping up with this trend. The sanctions and disapproval of the EU do not seem to be effective and the EU should think of new and more effective ways to stop this process. As of now, we might as well expect other conservative and anti-LGBTQ legislation in the country in the near future.

Are conservative trends a good thing?
In my opinion, conservative trends are not necessarily negative trends. There is something positive about balancing radical and liberal trends that are developing in other parts of the Western world. Trying to protect the traditional family is not necessarily wrong. Traditions are important gatekeepers of society as they help preserve stability and order, and help to ensure the present does not become disconnected from the past. Yet, it is important not to exaggerate this, and to preserve the freedom of expression and the rights of all, in order to avoid totalitarianism. Thus, Victor Orbán must walk a fine line between rallying support among his conservative base and protecting the rights of minorities and freedom of expression.

This article was written by Ghila Amati and reflects her personal analysis and opinion, rather than those of EARS.

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[1] Hungary’s Viktor Orban will hold referendum on anti-LGBT law

[2] Hungary’s anti-gay law threatens programming of TV favourites

[3] Hungary: news, videos, reports and analysis  

[4] LGBTQ rights: news, videos, reports and analysis

[5] EU to Begin Investigating Hungary’s Ban on ‘Promoting Homosexuality’

[6]07/07/2021 Hungary’s controversial anti-LGBT law goes into effect despite EU warnings

[7] Budapest Pride stands up for LGBT rights in Hungary

[8] EU votes for action over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law      

[9] EU brings legal action against Hungary and Poland for defense of traditional family values

[10] Hungary’s Viktor Orban will hold referendum on anti-LGBT law

[11] Thousands join Budapest Pride march to protest anti-LGBTQ education law in Hungary

[12] Conservative trends in Europe: The case of the traditional family in Hungary