Thousands in Hungary protest anti-LGBT laws before parliament

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Protesters and human rights officials in Hungary on Monday urged lawmakers to reject legislation banning content that portrays or promotes homosexuality or gender reassignment to anyone under 18.

Thousands of LGBT activists and others demonstrated in front of the parliament in Budapest that evening, chanting “we’re here!” while urging lawmakers to abandon plans for the bills.

David Vig, director of Amnesty International’s Hungarian branch, told those in attendance.

Fidesz, the conservative ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, presented the legislation last week and plans to vote on the bills on Tuesday. They include a measure aimed at combating pedophilia, along with other amendments prohibiting the passing on of information about LGBT people or same-sex relationships to young people.

Fidesz describes the legislation as an attempt to protect children from pedophilia.

But Lydia Gall, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said equating sexual and gender diversity with pedophilia damages the dignity of LGBT people and puts them at risk.

Gall called the legislation “a cynical, unsavory and deliberate attempt by the Orban administration to trample on the rights of LGBT people and essentially make them invisible in Hungarian society.”

Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights body, asked Hungarian lawmakers to reject the legislation.

“I urge you to remain vigilant against such initiatives to push through measures that restrict human rights or stigmatize some members of society,” Mijatovic said in a statement on Monday.

The Hungarian amendments would ban any depiction or discussion of different gender identities and sexual orientations in public, including in schools and in the media.

Some human rights groups have compared the planned ban to a discriminatory 2013 Russian law banning so-called gay propaganda, widely regarded as an instrument of discrimination.

Mijatovic said such legislation strengthens prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. She also argued that international human rights organizations have established that young people have the right to comprehensive sex education, which is not possible if there is a ban on any discussion of LGBT issues.

“The proposed legislative changes violate international and European human rights standards. It is misleading and false to claim that they are introduced to protect children,” she said.

The legislation is expected to be passed, as Fidesz has a majority.

‘Discriminating Politics’

The opposition in Hungary is divided on the issue.

The right-wing Jobbik party said Monday it plans to vote for the anti-pedophilia law and amendments, despite what it believes were some flaws, as it agrees that the “promotion” of gender reassignment and “all kinds of sexual orientations “should” not be allowed in schools.

Other parties plan to boycott the vote. The center-left Democratic Coalition said it would boycott the entire Tuesday session to protest Fidesz’s “hate speech” and “discriminatory politics.”

(AP)