What is Hungary’s Controversial Anti- LGBTQ Law?

By Tanya Napolean


Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is up for re-election next year, has been more radical on social issues, raging against LGBT people and immigration under his repressive government, which has polarized Hungarians.

Mr. Orban has also faced widespread criticism in the EU, with accusations that he is restricting the rights of migrants and other minorities, politicizing the judiciary and media, and allowing anti-Semitism. His Fidesz party adopted new legislation that forbids sharing material about homosexuality or sex reassignment in school sex education programs, films, or ads with anyone under the age of 18.

Even after numerous Opposition leaders boycotted the legislation, the new law was approved by 157 votes.

The government claims the rule is intended to safeguard children, but critics claim it equates to homosexuality. Human rights organizations and opposition leaders slammed Hungary’s government for passing this legislation

The Hungarian legislation sparked outrage across Europe, causing 17 EU (European Union) members to issue a public declaration urging the European Commission to intervene regarding the discrimination against marginalized groups in Hungary.

Furthermore, the new law has been criticized by EU nations, such as France, Germany, Spain, and Ireland, as a “Flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.” According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the legislation will be investigated for any violations of EU law.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International Hungary, wrote a letter to the government condemning the bill “clearly infringes the right to freedom of expression, human dignity, and equal treatment.

” Previously, the Orban government implemented legislation prohibiting transgender and intersex persons from altering their legal gender on legal papers and thus prohibiting same-sex partners from adopting a child.”

Restrictions under the new legislation

The Hungarian legislation prohibits the dissemination of information intended for minors that promotes homosexuality or gender transformation. The Hungarian government defended the law by saying “There are certain contents that children under a certain age may misunderstand, and which may harm their development at that age, or which children simply cannot process, and which may thus confuse their developing moral values or their image of themselves or the world.

The regulation also places restrictions on who may teach sex education in schools. These classes can now only be conducted by persons and organizations that are listed in an official government registration.

This legislation is aimed at “Organizations having a questionable professional background… Frequently formed to represent certain sexual orientations”.

The School curriculum is not the only area where information is restricted. The law also prohibits children’s television programming with gay characters or LGBTQI+ themes.

Hungary’s major broadcasters have criticized the rule, claiming that it might affect famous films like the “Harry Potter” series and class shows such as “Friends.”

In a statement, the Hungarian Association of Advertisers (MRSZ) claimed that excluding sexual minorities from the media “hinders responsible and colorful representations of the world” in keeping with tolerance and accepting ideals

According to reports, the rule also prohibits businesses and organizations from airing advertising in favor of the LBTQI+ community if they are directed at children.

This is not the first time in Hungary that pro-sexual minorities marketing campaigns have been met with opposition. Several prominent Fidesz politicians advocated for a boycott of a Coca-Cola advertisement depicting homosexual couples in 2019.

For instance, both Poland and Hungary have been chastised by European Union partners for their regressive policies. The amendments to the Hungarian Constitution in December 2020, changed the definition of families to exclude transgender and other LGBT people, defining the family as “marriage and the parent-child relationship,” with “the mother being a woman and the father being a man” as the foundation.

Furthermore, the Hungarian government has defined the term marriage in the constitution as a relationship between a man and a woman, thus ruling out homosexual marriage.

In neighboring Poland, a similar government-led LGBTQI+ movement is taking shape, with local governments enacting legislation against “LGBT ideology.”

The European Commission’s reaction

The European Commission is taking legal action against Hungary for enacting a contentious rule restricting LGBTQ material.

Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen told reporters, The Hungarian law is a shame. I will use all of the commission’s authorities to ensure that all EU citizens’ rights are protected, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

The Commission had written to the Hungarian authorities in late June to raise its legal concerns.

The letter stated, “Some of the provisions of the Bill, if they were to enter into force, would violate several provisions of EU law, in particular Articles 34 and 56 TFEU, the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (“AVMSD”)4 and the e-commerce Directive as well as the EU Charter of fundamental rights. In this respect, the Commission draws your attention to the provisions listed in the annex to this letter (“the contested provisions”).

How did the legislation violate EU Law?

The letter went on to explain that:

“In the ambit of application of EU directives or where a Member State restricts one of the internal market fundamental freedoms, such law must comply with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The contested provisions directly violate the prohibition of discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation enshrined in Article 21 of the Charter. In that regard, it follows from the well-established case-law of both the Court of Justice of the EU and the ECHR Court that discrimination based on gender reassignment would be tantamount to a failure to respect the dignity and freedom to which the individuals concerned are entitled. In addition, the following fundamental rights are violated:

  • the right to private and family life (Articles 7 and 9 Charter) because they are liable to stigmatize LGBTIQ persons and couples.
  • the right to freedom of expression and information enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter because they unjustifiably limit the content of media services and other communications.
  • the freedom to conduct a business enshrined in Article 16 of the Charter because
  • they oblige service providers to adapt their behavior and offerings to the Hungarian requirements.”


In conclusion, it has been proved that Hungary’s new legislation violates EU law.

The legal action by the European Commission is only the beginning of a prolonged legal process that will have no adverse effect on Hungary. However, it contributes to indications that the Commission will take a harsh approach when examining whether Hungary’s alleged fall towards authoritarianism poses a risk to the European Union.

The EU Commission and the European Parliament have already taken action against the Hungarian Prime Minister administration under the EU’s “rule of law” directive.

Due to this, Budapest may lose its voting rights if four-fifths of Hungary’s EU partners agree that “there is a clear risk of a significant violation” of the European Union standards.

The European Parliament has asked the European Commission to utilize a new mechanism that permits the EU to decrease financial allocations to member states that break the law to force the Hungarian government to reconsider its decision.

Furthermore, the European Commission recommended suspending funds to the Hungary Government ruled by the extremist right populist party from the European Union collectively funded economic stimulus program and joint budget.

Furthermore, the EU and the commission could consider judicial review regarding the legislation by appealing to the European Court of Justice.

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