The Hungarian parliament introduced new legislation about child protection in June 2021. But was it only about child protection?
When the Fidesz party introduced the draft, it was only about stronger punishment for paedophilia and child abuse. However, when they legalised the new act, they added extra context, and this is what caused the outrage in Hungary and in the European parliament.
The statute compared homosexuality with paedophilia. Furthermore, the law forbade the streaming, or visual representation of any non-heterosexual texts, or stories to children under the age of 18.
This legislation changed the attitude of the younger generation and caused fear, anger, and frustration. These feelings made more than 20,000 youths take part in the Budapest Pride 2021. It was one of the biggest, Pride demonstrations Hungary has ever held. Interestingly, this year more older people joined the peaceful protest and to support freedom of expression.
This act was not the first attempt to push through the government’s own agenda. Autumn of 2020 was the starting point of anti-gay propaganda when the Hungarian parliament voted to modify the law on child adoption.
This new act bans single parents from adopting children. Only married, heterosexual couples can adopt. The passing of this legislation triggered public indignation, since this not only affected homosexual couples, (who earlier evaded the law by adopting as a single parent) but also, prevented heterosexual, single, women and men from adopting children on their own.
Above all, Hungarian writers, and poets, such as Boldizsár Nagy, Krisztina Molnár, István Lakatos, collaborated, re-wrote, and modernized old tales. These fairy tales —like Hansel and Gretel, Thumbelina, or Snow White— included characters who were minorities like gypsies, homosexual people, or abused children.
Originally, this book was written for children to teach them tolerance and to represent the wider spectrum of love. However, Dóra Dúró a member of the far-right party (Jobbik) shredded this book in a press conference.
Since June 2021, it is clear, that more young people openly show their personalities. They feel they will not be rejected by the nation if they do not conform to heterosexual ideas. This was probably, not the reaction that the government expected.
Many celebrities such as Tilda Swinton, and companies alike, the Elle Hungary magazine have shown support for the homosexual community. After the paedophilia law, they published the summer edition, with three different front covers. All three wanted to represented Love: on one there was a famous married gay couple; on another, a famous actress who had recently come out as a lesbian and her girlfriend; and on the third was a heterosexual couple. This was one of the bestselling magazines in years.
Earlier this autumn I sent out a questionnaire to 115 people in Hungary. The respondents were all aged from 18 to 60 plus.
68% of the respondents believed the new law affected homosexual people mostly, but some believed that it could affect everyone in Hungary.
Since the new law is for child protection, one question concerned whether parents thought that homosexuals posed a threat to their children. Only, 5% of the respondents answered yes. Interestingly, these respondents, who were mostly over 40, did not have any homosexual contacts.
As mentioned earlier, this new legislation controls children’s exposer to any program where non-heterosexual relationships are visually represented. According to the questionnaire, the majority of respondents felt that movies can draw attention to different sexual orientations, however, these will not damage young people’s minds. One of the respondents commented in relation to the question:
“Ha a filmek befolyásolnák a gyerekek szexualitását, akkor mindenkinek heterónak kéne lennie, mert évtizedekig szinte kizárólag heteroszexuális párokat mutattak a tvben…. És mégis mennyi lmbtq+ ember van a világon.” – ‘If the movies can influence the children’s sexual orientation, then everyone should be heterosexual, since for centuries TV only presented heterosexual couples.’
The government’s latest legislation will deeply influence the future of education. Since children are not allowed to learn, hear, or access anything about non-heterosexual relationships. This may not only increase their ignorance of unsafe sexual interactions but also damage a lot of children’s mental health as well.
President Orban has said ‘Scholar education should not represent any different views than the beliefs of the parents.’. With his statement, he confirms, that teachers should keep their beliefs within limits, and they will deliver a “child-safe” education.
The FIDESZ party has a strong belief, that young student can be easily influenced by stories of homosexual or transgender people from the past. Therefore, they have set up a government body, with total authority to teach sexual education in schools.
Religion has always been an important part of Hungarians lives, since the foundation of the country in 1001. Since then, the majority of the population are Christian, but Roman Catholic and Muslim also can be found. Since, these religions have several rules, and basic doctrines, which believers should follow. Most of these religions are not modernized and forbid several concepts, what modern people believe should be normal, like the question of sexual orientation or control of birth. Since these religions forbid and do not approve of these kinds of identities, followers should give up their personality for church.
In 2013, religion became more involved in Hungarians lives, since the government made religion a compulsory subject in schools from the age of 6. If the younger generation grows up in an education system, which teaches them zero acceptance for other sexual identities, therefore when they are adults, they will exclude, and judge those who accept their identity. Not a surprise more and more bullying and judgment going on in schools.
Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between the urban and rural populations in Hungary. The rural population have less opportunity to open for the western world, than people in big cities. This not only causes huge differences between the financial groups but the rural population beliefs are also “less” or not as acceptable. Even in the 21st century, a lot of young people need to hide their believes or identities, because, in the rural area, they would be beaten up, or they would be kicked out from their society or their own family.
These young girls and boys do not have a chance to open up and tell the truth about themselves, therefore they have to deal with more mental and anger issues in their lives. It is not scientifically proven, but most of them became homophobic since they are raised to hate and discriminate against the gay community.
Luckily, more and more companies and organizations develop which tries to be there for people, who do not have money for therapy or have friends, they can ask for help from these companies. These companies also try to educate parents about the homosexual community, since a lot of people live in delusions. Unfortunately, there are more and more young people who rather hide their feelings or run away from their problems, rather than be open.
What will happen in the future?
Nobody knows what the future holds, the child protection act may affect the upcoming national election. It might even increase the number of emigrants from Hungary, but it can also change everyday life in Hungary as well.
The emigration number has been increasing every year since 2014. More and more small families and young people decide to start their lives abroad. In 2019, experts discovered, that London was the second largest Hungarian city after Budapest – the capital city- approximately 200.000 people out of 10 million (2%) of the total Hungarian population live in London nowadays. The triggers for emigration are increasing financial difficulties, underpaid jobs, controlled education, and discrimination.
With the latest act of the parliament, the government strongly chose the way they would like to lead the country in the future. They are leaning more towards the east European countries like Russia and Turkey. Nobody knows what politicians are doing, but the public believes in changing Parliament’s decisions. Hungary, Poland, Ukraine are all falling victims to the malign influence of Russia, who in 2013 passed a similar child protection act.
Feature Image Credit: Photography by Campbell