A controversial law banning materials that could be seen as promoting homosexuality or gender change to minors takes effect in Hungary on July 7 despite many EU member states and advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people condemning it.
Hungary's parliament last month passed the legislation, which prohibits the “display or promotion" of homosexuality or gender reassignment in television shows, films, and sexual education programs to kids in schools. Critics have slammed the law as an attack on the rights of LGBT people, saying it stigmatizes sexual minorities and seeks to stifle discourse on sexual orientation. Protests against the law took place last month in Budapest, and some EU leaders blasted Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a summit last week. French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte suggested that Orban should either uphold EU values or pull Hungary out of the 27-member bloc. Ahead of the summit, leaders from 17 EU members signed a letter deploring any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying that “respect and tolerance are at the core of the European project.” While the letter didn’t explicitly mention Hungary, its target was thinly veiled.
A group of 13 EU countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland, went even further, condemning Hungary for the legal changes.
In addition, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used unusually harsh language calling the law "shameful" and said the EU's executive is considering legal action because it violates the bloc's fundamental values. Only Poland and Slovenia are said to have supported Orban over the law. Orban has argued that the law isn't against homosexuality, and his right-wing government, which faces elections next year, insists the law is necessary to ensure that the sexual education of children under 18 is the sole domain of parents. Orban accused European leaders of acting like “colonialists" in their criticism of the law. “They want to dictate what laws should take effect in another country, they want to tell us how to live our lives and how to behave.” He added in comments on public radio that the criticism was a result of “bad reflexes caused by their European colonialist past.”