On Thursday, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, presented the latest economic and political developments at another Government Info meeting. Among other topics, the briefing focused on the financing of the Hungarian opposition from abroad and the Child Protection Act.
On the EU’s action on the Child Protection Act, Gulyás said: Hungary will wait for the court’s decision and will comply with it, as it has done so far, but that does not change the goal of protecting young people, especially children, with the strongest and most effective means possible.
We will always have the necessary means to adopt, create, and strengthen the strictest child protection system in Europe,”
he maintained, adding that the governing party’s parliamentary group would probably come up with a proposal to tighten the law in the first half of this year, or by summer at the latest. The minister also talked about the European Parliament intervening in the case. The European Parliament’s committee on legal affairs voted in favor of parliament joining the European Commission’s case against Hungary over the child protection law on Tuesday. Gulyás said that they hoped that regardless of who intervenes on the European Commission’s side, the court would act solely on the basis of the law. Whether this would be the case, he added, he could not guarantee. The action could be seen as pressure, he said.
Gulyás stressed that education is clearly a national competence, so there is no EU competence in sex education. On the issue of pedophile offenses, the minister said that the main problem was not the severity of the penalties, but the lack of protection for young people over 14.
The Hungarian government wants to take strong action in the field of child protection, following the recent spread of LGBTQ awareness-raising lectures in several schools and the publication of an LGBTQ storybook.
But this is a thorn in the side of the European Union, which is keen to promote similar liberal ideologies. The situation is compounded by the fact that several cases of alleged child abuse have come to light in recent months, some of them involving adult school staff accused of abusing minors.
These cases have once again highlighted the need for the Child Protection Act, and an increase in the age of consent may also be on the table. The current age of consent is 14, and this is the loophole that was used by a 39-year-old teaching assistant who had a same-sex relationship with a 15-year-old boy. The man later bragged on his social media page that he had not broken any laws, that the relationship was at most morally objectionable, but that he thought it was totally okay.
The issue of campaign financing of opposition parties was also discussed at the Government Info meeting, and Gulyás said that the State Audit Office of Hungary had investigated the matter, but the parties should first react to its findings. He will make this data public once this has been done. The minister stressed that the aim is to ensure that the legislation that governs party funding will prohibit the acceptance of funds from abroad. He noted that there are about two months to amend the law on elections, as it is not desirable to do so in the year before the election (next year, there will EP-elections and municipal elections as well in Hungary).
It was already reported last year that the Hungarian opposition parties received large sums of money from the United States. Then in January, it turned out that Action for Democracy, an American NGO, sent the opposition Everyone’s Hungary Movement and associated organizations and businesses over 3 billion forints (7.6 million euros), a higher sum than previously thought, according to the National Information Center (NIK). This funding was on top of funding from other sources totaling 1.1 billion, 900 million forints of which came from a Swiss foundation “with the same aims” as the American NGO, according to the transcript.
Featured photo via MTI/Soós Lajos