Hungary’s Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill And The EU’s Response

On June 15, 2021, Hungary’s parliament adopted an anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law. In the few weeks, this law has received international criticism, especially from the European Union. As reported by the New York Times, the law aims to “require the labelling of all content that might fall into that category of ‘not recommended for those under 18 years of age’.” Limitations apply to marketing and even sex education. Furthermore, there is criticism that the Hungarian government is using this law to conflate pedophilia and the LGBTQ+ community. This law has disappointed many different organizations and paints an even sadder image for LGBTQ+ Hungarians as parliament passed this law during June, internationally recognized as Pride Month.

European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen spoke critically of the bill, saying, “This bill clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation. It goes against the fundamental values of the European Union: human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.” Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, relies heavily on Christian values, and supporters reiterated his conservative base and these ideals in the government’s responding statements. The Hungarian government counters Ms. von der Leyen by saying she holds “a biased political opinion without a previously conducted, impartial inquiry.” Denying accusations of discrimination, the government also adds that “The recently adopted Hungarian bill protects the rights of children, guarantees the rights of parents and does not apply to the sexual orientation rights of those over 18 years of age.”

This bill has created a big divide between the European Union and Hungary. Reuters reports that “Seventeen of the 27 EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, signed a joint letter reaffirming their commitment to protecting gay rights.” The EU and many member states have made it clear that Hungary either needs to change this bill or potentially be forced out of the EU. The EU’s primary goal in this situation is to protect human rights and make sure all citizens of all country’s within the EU do not face discrimination based on who they are. This law directly puts people in the LGBTQ+ community in possible danger in Hungary. Therefore, the EU needs to continue to stick to its harsh rhetoric towards the Hungarian government for the sake of human rights and the benefit of Hungarian citizens.

The Central European University writes about the history of the LGBTQ+ movement in Hungary and how Pride parades are met with counter-demonstrations and sometimes violence year after year. For example, in 2007, there were attacks by right-wing nationalists at the Budapest Pride March. Negative behaviour towards the LGBTQ+ community is still prevalent as this discriminatory law by the right-wing government is currently being signed. Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, plays a significant role in politics all over the country and even across Europe. Politico writes that Orbán “is now the talisman of Europe’s mainstream right.” While he has been compared to Putin of Russia and Erdoğan of Turkey, he still mainly falls in line with EU regulations and norms. Politico says, “Whenever the EU pushes back hard on his provocations…he tends to give in”. In this anti-LGBTQ+ bill, Orbán may stray from falling in line, which could only worsen Hungary’s relationship with the EU.

The Hungarian government’s decision to pass an anti-LGBTQ+ bill during Pride Month was bound to create a backlash, especially from the European Union. How Orbán handles this situation will show his allegiance to the EU or his desire to trouble his country, widening the divide to other European countries. Either way, the EU has taken a firm stance against this new law, remarking that all countries need to respect LGBTQ+ rights to be a part of the EU. Hopefully, this resonates with Hungary and allows for a more open and accepting community within the country.