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Uproar in EU Over Hungary LGBTQ+ Legislation

Kate Byng-Hall reports as a Pride controversy at the Euros sparks outrage surrounding Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

A fleet of tampons rest against a baby blue background

Hungary has come under fire after refusing to play a Euro 2020 match at the Allianz Arena in Munich due to plans to light up the stadium with rainbow colours to mark Pride Month. As a result, UEFA blocked the proposed display, leading one German fan to run onto the pitch before the game waving a Pride flag in protest.

This incident comes after the Hungarian government passed new legislation banning any material promoting or even portraying LGBTQ+ rights or awareness to anyone under the age of 18. The law change has received backlash from EU member states, being criticised as discriminatory.

Conservative Censorship

On 15 June 2021, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced new legislation prohibiting the exposure of minors to material including any trace of gay or transgender people and/or relationships.

Schools will no longer be able to teach any material including LGBTQ+ issues, and parents are being encouraged to bar children from such material too. The law could also mean popular media which includes portrayals of LGBTQ+ people, including shows such as Friends, will not be shown on Hungary television until late at night.

The country’s government has justified this move as an attempt to protect Hungary’s traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, and says the legislation is aimed not to target LGBTQ+ people, but to protect children, with Mr Orban saying, “this is not against homosexuality. It's about the right of the kids and the parents.”

However, the change has sparked widespread concern that young people will be deprived of the education and support both to make them tolerant of people’s differences, and accepting of their own sexualities.

The majority of the EU member states united to condemn the new legislation at the European Council in June, with 17 of the 27 member states signing a letter confirming their support for the LGBTQ+ community. The criticism was led by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who said the laws defy fundamental human rights “which are not negotiable”, and that the country has to respect them or they will have “no business being in the European Union any more”.

“They've gone too far... it starts with discriminating against LGBT and ends up with silencing people who say what they don't like.” – Alexander De Croo, Belgian Prime Minister

Right-Wing Regression

This legislation is just the next stage in a series of hyper-conservative changes implemented by Mr Orban during his leadership, with the PM himself describing his government as an “illiberal democracy”.

Since he gained power in 2010, many argue that Mr Orban has in fact undermined the country’s democracy, prompting concerns about the legitimacy of election results, filling the government and courts with allies, cutting the funding available to opposition parties and taking control of 90% of the country’s media outlets. In 2020, the pro-democracy group Freedom House ranked Hungary as only Partly Free, meaning they no longer consider the country to be a democracy.

This reflects, perhaps, a concerning trend for far-right popularity which is currently spreading across Europe. There is considerable risk that other countries may adopt similar legislation in the near-future as hyper-conservative candidates gain traction across other regions.


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