The anti-LGBTQ+ policy is once again illustrated in Hungary. The state imposed a fine of 12 million forints (32,000 euros) on the Líra bookstore chain. The reason: the sale of two books dealing with homosexuality – a webcomic and the British graphic novel Heart stroke, by Alice Oseman, telling a love story between two boys – without prevention messages or plastic packaging.

Imperative requirements since the 2021 law known as against the “promotion” of homosexuality and transidentity, which prohibits any representation with minors and equates LGBTQ + identities with pedocrime. Considered to violate human rights, this law has been the subject of an infringement procedure by the European Union since 2021, with the support of 15 countries, including France.

The state had already asked, in January 2020, Labrisz – Hungarian lesbian association – to add a warning to readers after the publication of revisited fairy tales including homosexual and transgender characters. It is therefore only the continuity of the policy pursued in recent years by Viktor Orban. Since coming to power in 2010, the ultra-conservative Prime Minister has gradually put in place a repressive legal arsenal vis-à-vis LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary.

In the early 2000s, Hungary had one of the most progressive laws for LGBT rights

As early as 2011, he included in the Constitution a clause defining “the institution of marriage as the union between a man and a woman”. In May 2020, the Hungarian Parliament banned the recognition of the gender identity of transgender people in civil status, introducing the notion of biological into the law. In December 2020, the ban on adoption by same- couples was constitutionalized.

Last offensive to date: the vote, last April, of a text authorizing the anonymous denunciation of those who “question” the constitutional definition of marriage and the family. In the line of sight: homoparental families. Under fire from critics, the text was however withdrawn on May 23. Recently, an amendment was tabled to exclude transgender women from an early retirement program enjoyed by Hungarian women.

If this policy vis-à-vis LGBTQ+ rights is today one of the most restrictive in Europe, Hungary had one of the most progressive legislations in this area in the early 2000s. The country decriminalized homosexuality in 1961 and a civil partnership between people of the same had been established as early as 1996. According to the Hungarian NGO Hattér Society, the population did not follow the conservative dynamics of the government: “Hungarian society is more tolerant than its government on LGBTQ+ issues, especially in cities like Budapest. »

Through its constant attacks, the government is fueling a moral panic around a supposed decline of “Christian values” and the “Hungarian way of life”, and scapegoating them – LGBTQ+ people, but also immigrants.

The interest: to circumvent other subjects unfavorable to the power in place in a context where Brussels freezes billions of euros of funds and where prices soar. “The government is instrumentalizing the subject in the run-up to the local and European elections of 2024 to mobilize its base and divert attention” problems,” David Vif, director of Amnesty International in Budapest, told AFP.

The lack of positive representation of LGBTQ+ people therefore has concrete consequences for society and for the people concerned, especially young people. “This can cause them to feel ashamed of their identity and lead to low self-esteem and greater exposure to mental health issues like depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts,” emphasizes Eszter Mihaly, of Amnesty International Hungary.

The presidency of the European Parliament in question

A situation that accentuates ignorance and promotes violence. A Hattér report published in July 2022, one year after the law came into force, demonstrates this: “The number of hate crimes and cases of LGBTQ+ discrimination reported to Hattèr society has increased significantly. LGBTQ+ organizations say their activities have become much more difficult. » A hostile climate which, according to the NGO, has already pushed many people concerned to leave the country.

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Although Hungary is a member state of the European Union, Viktor Orbán regularly accuses the institution of favoring “the LGBT offensive”. An idea that he reaffirmed on July 22 during the Tusványos festival, in Romanian Transylvania, where there is a large Hungarian community. This is not the Prime Minister’s only disagreement with the EU.

The one who claims “intolerant” refrains from criticizing Vladimir Putin and maintains its ties with Moscow since the beginning of the war. It must be said that the two leaders have a common vision on LGBTQ+ issues. Legislation similar to the Hungarian law of 2021 has been in force in Russia since 2013: the state prohibits “LGBT+ propaganda” among minors and, since December 2022, this legislation has been extended to adults. Last June, the Kremlin also banned reassignment operations.

Despite its disagreements with the institution, it is Hungary which is supposed to hold the rotating presidency of the European Union from July to December 2024, followed by Poland, another country leading an anti-LGBTQ+ policy. Due to these violations of the rule of law by Budapest, the European Parliament voted in June a resolution calling for the reconsideration of the Hungarian presidency.

In a context of the rise of the far right in Europe, other countries are beginning to harden their line vis-à-vis LGBTQ+ rights, including Italy recently. Viktor Orbán is indeed one of the models cited by far-right parties, including the National Rally.

In Italy, lesbian mothers are discriminated against

The Padua public prosecutor complicates the lives of the children of lesbian couples. For a month, she has been asking the court to modify the birth certificates of certain children on the grounds that they could only have one mother. The non-biological mother is purely and simply removed from the civil status. Dozens of Italian women have had this mishap. The children involved were born after 2017. The prosecutor’s decision follows a circular from the far-right government of Giorgia Meloni, published earlier this year, which obliges municipalities to no longer register the non-biological parent of children from the assisted procreation in a lesbian couple, on the grounds that medically assisted procreation is not authorized for homosexual couples in the peninsula. Concretely, this means that in the event of the death of the biological mother, the child could be separated from its second mother and entrusted to another family.


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