European Commission: the so-called "child protection" law is bleeding from a thousand wounds
A year and a half after announcing the infringement proceeding, the Court of Justice of the European Union today has published the European Commission's action against Hungary over the so-called "child protection" law. EU Member States have six weeks to join the CJEU's case.
On June 15, 2021, the Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of an amendment to the law, known as the Propaganda Law, which bans the display and promotion of LGBTQI issues, further demonizing LGBTQI people. Already when the bill was introduced in the Parliament, advocacy organizations strongly warned that the amendments will have a chilling effect on Hungarian society, as they will unjustifiably restrict access to LGBTQI content. Violence against LGBTQI people has increased since the adoption of the law censoring gay and transgender rights, and not only has LGBTQI content disappeared from educational institutions, but sex education in general has become more difficult, as external experts and NGOs can only access schools with permission, while the ministerial decree on permission has not been adopted to date. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg already ruled that the Russian propaganda law is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights: it violates Article 10 and 14 guaranteeing freedom of expression and non-discrimination, respectively.
In January 2023, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR confirmed that legislation that specifically restricts LGBTQI content cannot be justified on the grounds of child protection, as it is against the best interests of the child. It is contrary to the spirit of the Convention to prevent minors from receiving objective, critical education on the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities.
The law and its guidelines are deliberately vague and unpredictable: teachers, child protection professionals and media service providers are thus likely to self-censor themselves to avoid violating the law's ambiguous provisions. This is how LGBTQI issues become taboo again in public discourse and everyday life.
A year and a half after announcing the infringement proceeding, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) yesterday published the European Commission's petition. The submission, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, makes it clear that the amendments adopted by the Propaganda Act are contrary to a number of provisions in EU law, including several provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. European Union Member States have six weeks from February 13 to join the infringement proceeding. The case pending before the European Court is not only about the Hungarian homophobic and transphobic law, but also about populism that violates human dignity and denies it to sexual and gender minorities. No government of an EU Member State should treat LGBTQI people as second-class citizens.
The strong action of the European Commission sends a clear message to Member States: Viktor Orbán's anti-LGBTQI crusade cannot be allowed to spread in the European Union.
Háttér Society and its allies therefore urge all EU Member States to stand up for equality and for LGBTQI people in Hungary. By joining the infringement proceeding by providing ‘written observations’ to the CJEU case, they can make it clear that EU members are committed to the fundamental values that form the bedrock of our Union: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
EU citizens can send a petition to their foreign minister to ask their government to join the EUB procedure by filling in a petition on the Forbidden Colours website. The petition is signed by Forbidden Colours, Háttér Society, Reclaim Europe and Budapest Pride.