Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga Wednesday promised that Budapest will defend an education law against criticism by the EU that it discriminates against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Varga filed a counterclaim with the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding her nation’s alleged breach of obligations initiated under the Hungarian Child Protection Act 2021. The European Commission referred Hungary to the court over the anti-LGBTQ+ law in mid-2022, considering it as violating the fundamental rights of individuals and EU values.
Varga argues that “education is a national jurisdiction and it is the right of the parents of decide on the upbringing of children.” Passed in June 2021, the law bans the use of materials seen as “promoting” or “portraying” homosexuality or gender transition in schools. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has asserted that the law is about the education of children regarding any sexual content, calling himself “a committed defender of rights,” including for LGBTQ+ people.
Critics argue that the law contravenes the rights of the child and stigmatises LGBTQ+ people. Eurochild, a network of organisations and individuals that campaign for the rights of the child, condemned the law as “us[ing] child protection as an excuse to curtail the rights of children” and argued that it “contributes to a climate of fear.”
Amnesty International argued that the law “amounts to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” constituting a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The law requires media content that depicts “pornography or sexuality for its own sake” to be prohibited to minors. Amnesty International says this provision creates a “false narrative” by comparing depictions of LGBTQ+ people to depictions of pornography or extreme violence.
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights previously found that Russia’s prohibition of the “promotion of homosexuality” among minors is a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the ECHR.