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European Law Experts Say Hungary's LGBT Law Breaches International Rights Standards

A demonstrator holds an LGBT flag during a protest against the law in Budapest in June.
A demonstrator holds an LGBT flag during a protest against the law in Budapest in June.

A panel of experts of the Council of Europe human rights body has assessed that recent amendments to Hungarian legislation related to sex-education programs in schools and the presentation of sexual content in the media are discriminatory and violate international human rights standards.

The government of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban passed the changes in June, drawing sharp criticism from the European Commission and members of the LGBT community who say they stigmatize sexual minorities and stifle discourse on sexual orientation.

In an opinion published on December 14, the constitutional law experts of the Venice Commission concluded that the amendments "fail to comply with the positive obligation of Hungary to ensure that the educational system provide children with objective and non-biased information on gender identity and sexual orientation," according to a statement.

The amendments contribute to creating a "threatening environment" in which LGBT children can be subject to bullying and harassment, the panel said.

They "leave space only for one-sided and biased teaching, opening doors to stigmatization and discrimination" of LGBT people, it added.

The experts also regretted that the reform was adopted "in a rushed manner, without consulting civil society and the political opposition."

The laws in question set limits on schools' teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues as well as the depiction of LGBT content in the media, ostensibly as a measure to prevent child abuse.

Orban says the measures aim to protect children and families and does not target adults.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, has launched two separate legal proceedings against Hungary's government over what it called infringements on LGBT rights.

Critics say Orban's ruling Fidesz has stepped up its anti-LGBT campaign as part of an ongoing drive to depict itself as the guardian of Christian values against Western liberalism that also included blocking migrants from transiting Hungary and closing down privately owned liberal media institutions.

The amendments were proposed by the government ahead of parliamentary elections next year in which Fidesz may be vulnerable to a newly united opposition.

With reporting by Reuters
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