European Commission: the so-called “child protection” law is full of holes

As the next step in a year and a half of infringement proceedings, the Court of Justice of the European Union today published the European Commission’s action against Hungary over the so-called “child protection” law. EU Member States have six weeks to join the CJEU’s case.

On 15 June 2021, the Hungarian Parliament voted in favour of an amendment to the law known as the Propaganda Law, which bans the display and promotion of LGBTQI topics, further demonising LGBTQI people. Right from the bill’s introduction, human rights organisations have forewarned that the amendments will have a chilling effect on Hungarian society, as they will unduly restrict access to LGBTQI content. Violence against LGBTQI people has increased since the adoption of the law censoring gay and transgender representation, and not only has LGBTQI content disappeared from educational institutions, but sex education in general has become more difficult, as external experts and NGOs can only access schools with permission, and the ministerial decree on issuing permissions has not been adopted to date. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ruled that the Russian propaganda law was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights’ articles on freedom of expression and non-discrimination. In January 2023, the ECHR Grand Chamber confirmed that the legislation, which specifically restricts LGBTQI content, cannot be justified on the grounds of child protection, as it is against the best interests of the child. It is contrary to the spirit of the Convention to exclude minors from receiving objective, critical education on the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities.

The law and its guidelines are deliberately vague and unpredictable: teachers, child protection professionals and media service providers are thus expected to self-censor so as to not violate the law’s unintelligible provisions. This is how LGBTQI issues become taboo again in public discourse and everyday life.

As the next step in a year and a half of infringement proceedings, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today published the European Commission’s letter of claim. The submission, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, makes it clear that the amendments adopted by the Propaganda Law are contrary to EU legislation in a number of areas, including several provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. European Union Member States have six weeks from 13 February to join the CJEU proceedings. This procedure is not only about the Hungarian homophobic and transphobic law, but also about populism that violates human dignity and denies it to sexual and gender minorities. No Member State government should treat LGBTQI people as second-class citizens. The decisive action of the European Commission sends a clear message to Member States: Viktor Orbán’s anti-LGBTQI rampage cannot be allowed to spread in the European Union. The Háttér Társaság (lit. ‘Background Society’) and its allies therefore urge all EU Member States to stand up for equality, to stand up for LGBTQI people in Hungary. By entering into the infringement procedure, they can make it clear that EU members are committed to the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

By filling out a petition on the European Forbidden Colours website, EU citizens can tell their foreign minister to get their government to join the EC process. The petition is signed by Forbidden Colours, Háttér Társaság, Reclaim Europe and Budapest Pride.

Tell your friends and acquaintances abroad about the petition – now we need international solidarity to stand together for our rights!

Translated by Zsófia Ziaja

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