A number of controversial cases led up to the tightening of the anti-pedophilia act. Besides some minor signs, the LGBTQI-themed restrictive measures of the law package were not foreseeable. NGOs, meanwhile, announced to challenge the law by all legal means and are organizing a new demonstration for Wednesday evening.
As a matter of fact, it was Democratic Coalition (DK) who first spoke of a searchable database some five years back, something that fell on deaf ears in the ruling forces. Although over the course of their rule, Fidesz-KDNP indeed made some features of the relevant laws stricter, such as imposing a no limitation period for such abuses and tightened the penalties in some cases.
Over the course of previous years, it was Hungarian ambassador to Peru, Gábor Kaleta’s case that stirred up emotions in Hungarian society and that refreshed arguments about the set-up of a database and tightening. Despite him being press chief at the Foreign Ministry and then at the Justice Ministry under the Orbán government, Kaleta himself wasn’t directly linked to Fidesz. However, the fact that Hungarian authorities overseen by government politicians couldn’t detect his activities made on his working computer, and then sought to keep the case a secret (in which they succeeded until the government-critical media unearthed it) and saved him from a Peruvian prison, has certainly left its mark. It was MSZP MP László Szakács who urged for a database soon after the scandal’s outbreak, followed by Jobbik’s Balázs Ander.
After the publishing of a fairytale book focusing on minorities (that also included LGBTQI representation) generated high waves in domestic politics last summer, Fidesz became a loud propagator of normalcy. At the time, Prime Minister Orbán himself expressed his opposition to such content and told the publishers to “leave our children alone.” But then came the Szájer case when the important Fidesz politician was caught at a gay orgy in Brussels, during curfew, and with ecstasy pills in his bag, and suddenly Fidesz had to go on the defensive, as the opposition parties harshly criticized the ruling parties’ morals.
It was on May 18th when Fidesz group leader Máté Kocsis came up with the announcement that the governing forces would eventually kick-start a legislation process for “children’s protections” and against pedophiles. As a matter of fact, Kocsis’ announcement has coincided with a fresh case involving a low-key Fidesz politician. It turned out that a man who had been previously caught having secretly filmed naked children at one of Győr’s public beaches was in fact a Fidesz-member parliamentary employee of the Western city’s Fidesz MP Róbert Balázs Simon, who was on the Győr Assembly’s cultural committee too. The 17th district’s former Fidesz deputy mayor’s case just made the news one month prior to that. In April, the prosecution brought charges against Tivadar Fohsz for having records of child pornography (of his step-daughter).
Kocsis gradually revealed the details of his draft. However, up until last week it wasn’t mentioned or suggested at all that the tightening and accompanying legislation would one way or another contain any LGBTQI features. As a result, it enjoyed the opposition’s support as well.
Hungarian law stricter than Russia’s anti-propaganda act?
Shortly prior to the Tuesday vote, Russia expert András Rácz argued that the LGBTQI features of the amendments make the Hungarian government’s law package more restrictive than that of the much-referred to Russian propaganda act. In contrast to the Hungarian version, the Russian law doesn’t connect homosexuality to pedophilia, according to the Pázmány Péter Catholic University’s associate professor.
As to the LMBTQI issues, “while the Russian law prohibits only the picturing and promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relationship among minors, the Hungarian law prohibits the promotion of not only homosexuality per se, but also any divergence from one’s identity based on their birth-defined sex, as well as the change of one’s sex. In other words, it also prohibits all forms of trans- and intersexuality, and also that people under the age of 18 would even hear about such things,” András Rácz writes. In addition, unlike the Hungarian version, the Russian law doesn’t discuss who may hold discussions or courses in schools related to sexuality, sexual culture, and gender issues, he pointed out in his Facebook post.
A long and perhaps not only legal battle to begin
As we reported on Tuesday, a long legal (and certainly political) battle has just started. Background Society (Háttér Társaság) calls attention once again to the nearly two-thirds of LGBTQI students who were verbally harassed for their sexual orientation, and more than half for their sexual self-expression in Hungary. “Pro-government and right-wing MPs let LGBTQI youth down: they made impossible those sensitivity programs, talks that promote acceptance,” read their open letter, signed by 13 other NGOs.
Even though the government is trying to turn LGBTQI people into an enemy, the last few days have shown that Hungarians refuse any incitement to hatred…we will focus on challenging this illegal and inhumane law both domestically and abroad by all available legal means.”
Meanwhile, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) commented that in fact two laws had been voted in on Tuesday: one that besides its deficiencies, still helps combat pedophiles and targets child protection, and a second one which is so deceitful and unjust that it makes resistance involving deliberate breach of the rule “constitutionally justifiable.” For those who choose this path of non-violent civil resistance, the human rights watchdog offers legal assistance, and they also published a guide.
New demo for Wednesday
A new and perhaps not the last demonstration is being organized for Wednesday evening. The protest, dubbed “Love is stronger than hate – let’s show János Áder too!” will begin at 6 o’clock in front of the president’s office (who still has the legal opportunity to refuse to sign the package) up in the Castle district.
According to the organizers’ plans, no speeches will be held this time, the LGBTQI participants will instead place personal letters about their frustrations, coming-outs, and difficulties at Sándor Palace for the president to read before deciding whether or not to sign the law.
In the featured photo: Fidesz group leader Máté Kocsis. Photo by Tibor Illyés /MTI