Lawmakers in Hungary approved a measure on June 15 that prohibits showing homosexual and transgender content to minors, as part of a move to target pedophilia.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party introduced the measure before the central European nation’s National Assembly passed it on a 157–1 vote. The right-wing Jobbik party also endorsed the measure, and just one independent lawmaker voted against it, according to local Hungarian media.
Fidesz State Secretary Csaba Domotor told media outlets that the legislation is for “the protection of children,” and noted that it would add a searchable database of individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes involving children.
“Pedophiles won’t be able to hide anymore—there are similar solutions in other countries, too. The criminal code will be even more strict. Punishments will be more severe. No one can get away with atrocities with light punishments and parole,” Domotor said, according to The Associated Press.
The law will ban content featuring LGBT individuals or symbols, along with the LGBT-associated rainbow flag, from schools, advertisements, and TV shows aimed at anyone under the age of 18. Among other things, it also bars the promotion of gender change among children.
“There are contents which children under a certain age can misunderstand and which may have a detrimental effect on their development at the given age, or which children simply cannot process, and which could therefore confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world,” a Hungarian government spokesperson told The Guardian.
Local media reported that the other opposition parties didn’t show up for the parliamentary session, in protest of the legislation. Meanwhile, the move sparked demonstrations in Budapest from LGBT groups, according to video footage posted online.
The mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony, also signaled opposition to the measure, writing on Facebook, “On this shameful day, the opposition’s place is not in the parliament but on the streets.”
The move also triggered criticism on Twitter by EU and U.S. LGBT activists, who claimed the measure is “yet another attack” against their groups. EU politicians, including German Foreign Minister Michael Roth, also panned the measure on June 16.
An EU official warned that the bloc could impose sanctions on Hungary. When asked by a reporter about whether the EU would sanction Hungary, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli responded in the affirmative: “Yes, of course. Definitely.”
Last year, Orban’s Fidesz passed a measure that barred people from legally changing their gender markers on their identity documents.