Thousands of protesters have gathered in Hungary’s capital to condemn a draft bill that would ban discussions on homosexuality or gender change in schools.
The demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building in Budapest on June 14, waving rainbow flags, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative ruling party, Fidesz, plans to vote on the controversial legislation on June 15.
The proposed amendment says children cannot be shown any content that encourages gender reassignment or same-sex relationships. The ban would also apply to advertising.
It also suggests the creation of a list of groups that would be allowed to conduct sex-education classes in schools.
One protester described the draft legislation as “horrible and inhumane.”
"This would lock some kids in the closet, and they should be given the opportunity to come out,” kindergarten assistant Dominika Pandzsa told Reuters.
Earlier on June 14, Dunja Mijatovic, the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body, said the legislation “curtails the freedom of expression and education of all Hungarians.”
She urged the Hungarian lawmakers to reject the bill and “to remain vigilant against such initiatives to push through measures that limit human rights or stigmatize against some members of society.”
Rights advocates have compared the planned ban to a discriminatory 2013 Russian law banning “gay propaganda,” viewed by human rights defenders as a tool of discrimination.
Orban and his Fidesz allies hold a supermajority in parliament that virtually ensures passage of priority legislation.
Orban's government has backed a strongly conservative social agenda and stepped up anti-LGBT moves as woes mounted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It has already embedded a requirement that marriage be between a man and a woman in the constitution and banned adoption by same-sex couples.
The government also retroactively prohibited legal status for transgender people in a move that the country's constitutional court ruled was unconstitutional.