European Commission probing Hungarian law that bans LGBTIQ content for people under 18

European Commission President confirms that controversial Hungarian law banning the sharing of LGBTIQ content is being assessed for possible breach of EU law

MEPs protested in Brussels as a show of solidarity with the Hungarian LGBTIQ community
MEPs protested in Brussels as a show of solidarity with the Hungarian LGBTIQ community

Hungary’s controversial new law banning the sharing of content that portrays homosexuality with people under 18 is being assessed for possible breach of EU legislation.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed that the law is being investigated by the EU.

“Very concerned about the new law in Hungary. 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,” von der Leyen tweeted.

The law, which was introduced by Fidesz, the movement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, will target educational materials at schools and TV shows that target minors and has been described as a broad-based attack on the country's LGBT community ahead of a crucial election in 2022.

The law was controversially included with other measures proposing tougher penalties for convicted paedophiles. This fuelled further controversy because of the suggestion that paedophilia was linked to homosexuality.

The law will ban teachers from discussing homosexuality and transgender issues, as well as stop films or television advertisements that make reference to such issues.

In a reaction to von der Leyen’s comment, the Hungarian government’s spokesperson Zoltan Kovaks hit back in defence of the law. “As the mother of 7 children, surely you understand importance of being able to educate your children on these sensitive matters as you see fit. That’s what this law is about,” Kovaks tweeted.

The European Commission’s decision to initiate an inquiry into the Hungarian law was welcomed by Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer, a long-standing advocate of LGBTIQ rights.

“I’m glad the European Commission will start an inquiry into the Hungarian LGBTIQ-silencing law. That said, time is of the essence and we expect a rapid result and immediate action. We all should be able to be whoever we are, irrespective of where we live in the EU,” Engerer said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Amnesty International described the law approved by Hungarian lawmakers as a "dark day for LGBTI rights and for Hungary".

Hungary ranks 27th on the Rainbow Index, a score sheet of 49 European countries published annually by the ILGA-Europe, an LGBTIQ+ advocacy group. Malta occupies the top spot having fulfilled most of the parameters analysed by the index. 

Although the onslaught on gay rights in Hungary has been unrelenting over the past few years under Fidesz, there are nine other EU member states, who rank far worse than Hungary on the index, including Poland, Italy and Czechia.