In July of this year, the Orbán administration banned LGBTQ content from appearing in school materials or television shows for people under 18. This policy caused a huge uproar in many European Union countries, which see this policy as homophobic. This LGBTQ discriminatory policy does not support the Biden Administration view nor American values of preventing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
This policy is not the first LGBTQ targeting policy to emerge while Viktor Orbán has been Prime Minister. In May of 2020, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law that prevents transgender individuals from legally changing their gender. This law means the requirement by law of forms of identification used for getting mail and crossing the border to display the gender assigned at the time of birth. Mail workers and border agents often pressure transgender and intersex individuals to explain the discrepancy between current gender and the gender on identification cards or passports. The other discriminatory policy, implemented in December 2020, banned same-sex couples from adopting children. Hungary only permits child adoptions by married couples, with some exceptions for single prospective parents or relatives. Hungarian law defines marriage between a man and a woman, which forms the basis for disqualifying same-sex couples from adopting.
One of the significant problems with this legislation was how lawmakers presented it to parliament; lawmakers grouped this policy was into a larger anti-pedophilia bill. This grouping is potentially dangerous because it puts LGBTQ rights within the same classification as pedophilia. It presents an LGBTQ targeting policy as a protection bill against child exploitation and endangerment. Naturally, parliament will support a policy that promotes child safety. This strategy manipulates parliament to vote in a way that harms LGBTQ members, which members of opposing parties may not have initially intended.
The Christian population pushes a large portion of the support of these policies and sentiments. According to the 2011 népszámlálás (Census), 73% of the population in Hungary is Christian. Fidesz, the current ruling party, is a conservative party, and their partner is the Christian Democratic People's Party, also known as the KDNP. Together they occupy 133 of the 199 seats in parliament. Christian and right-wing voters tend to oppose adoption by same-sex parents, as well as gender changes.
Another possible impact of these new policies is further influencing surrounding countries. For example, in the 2020 OSAC Crime and Safety report, Poland, a country with which Hungary has enjoyed a long positive relationship, is warned to have "significant human rights issues" towards LGBTQI+ individuals. Additionally, in October of this year, three regions in Poland removed anti-LGBTQ policies changing them from “LGBTQ-free” zones to more inclusive zones, but only after being threatened with loss of funding. The removal of these policies has triggered the anger of many Polish citizens living in the once “LGBTQ-Free” zones are mad, and these people state that the repeal of these policies is a direct attack on families. Likewise, incidents such as this sometimes encourage or arouse other countries with similar anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to act similarly.
This seemingly subtle implementation of LGBTQ discriminatory policies should concern the United States. These policies oppose the Biden Administration and American values of inalienable protection of minorities from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Following the implementation prohibiting non-heterosexual content for all legal minors, under the guise of an anti-pedophile law, The American Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, published a statement on the official embassy website. It states: “The U.S. Embassy Budapest is deeply concerned by anti-LGBTQI+ aspects of a bill passed today by the Hungarian Parliament. The United States stands for the idea that governments should promote freedom of expression and protect human rights, including the rights of members of the LGBTQI+ community.” While the United States Government did not support this policy, it is possible to say the United States government implemented no corrective action.
Despite the Hungarian government passing these LGBTQ discriminatory policies, there remains some support for LGBTQ rights within the general public. On June 24th, 2021 a Pride parade was held in Budapest with thousands of people in attendance. Many of these people were outraged by the implications of the new anti-LGBTQ policy. There may be a discrepancy between voters and their representatives, and representatives make more conservative policies than their constituents would support. In general, there is awareness of the damage and harm caused by the new anti-LGBTQ policy. However, it seems that there may not be checks in place or enough opposition in place to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals even if there are voters and constituents that would support them.
The United State Government should be aware of any future anti-LGBTQ policies implemented in Hungary. Future policies may be more extreme and prompt similar policies or more anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in surrounding countries.