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Hungary's Fidesz Seeks Ban With Echoes Of Russia's 'Gay Propaganda' Law

People march with a giant rainbow flag during a gay-pride parade in Budapest in 2019.
People march with a giant rainbow flag during a gay-pride parade in Budapest in 2019.

Hungary's dominant ruling party has proposed legislation to ban dissemination of materials on sensitive gender and sexual topics in a move that is already drawing comparisons to Russia's yearslong crackdown on "gay propaganda."

The Fidezs-backed amendment -- to a bill to combat pedophilia -- was introduced to lawmakers on June 10, and bans spreading content that is seen to promote gender change or homosexuality in schools.

National-populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz allies hold a supermajority in parliament that virtually ensures passage of priority legislation.

Orban's government has backed a strongly conservative social agenda and stepped up anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) moves as woes mounted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It has already embedded a requirement that marriage be between a man and a woman in the constitution and banned adoption by same-sex couples.

The government also retroactively prohibited legal status for transgender people in a move that the Constitutional Court ruled was unconstitutional.

The new amendment tacked onto the anti-pedophilia bill says children cannot be shown any content that encourages gender change or homosexuality.

The ban would also apply to advertising.

It also suggests the creation of a list of groups that would be allowed to conduct sex-education classes in schools.

The Hatter Society, a local LGBT+ rights group, called the draft amendment an attempt to "seriously curb freedom of speech and children's rights" and a move that "endangers mental health of LGBTQI youngsters and prevents them getting access to information...and affirmative support."

The Hatter Society compared it to legislation enacted in Russia in 2013 that has been used to punish discussion of a broad range of LGBT messages, including efforts to educate or to confront discrimination against that community.

That Russian legislation targets "propaganda on nontraditional sexual relations" and has been widely condemned by domestic and international rights groups.

With reporting by Reuters
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