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The Fidesz government’s “child protection law” threatens the mental health of several groups of young people, say Hungarian mental health professionals. In their open letter, they argue that while environmental factors have little to do with the development of sexual orientation, stigmatization and lack of access to information may be very harmful both for parents and children.

The government began putting together the relevant law back in June, following a number of pedophilia scandals. Referred to as an “anti-pedophilia law” in the beginning, they suddenly amended the package of laws with sections many find restrictive to the LGBT+ community, something that has naturally sparked criticism, both internationally and domestically.

Now, the Hungarian Psychiatric Association and Hungarian Psychological Association have issued an open letter, slamming the law. They argue that while there is an obvious and strong need for tougher criminal action against pedophiles, in the interest of children, this law endangers the mental health of some young people.

Some of the key points of their joint statement are as follows:

  • Several scientific studies prove that just as many children raised by heterosexual persons or couples become homosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTQ) as children raised by homosexual persons or couples.
  • In some cases, sex assigned at birth is not as biologically clear-cut as it might first appear. At birth, sex is assigned mainly by looking at the physical characteristics of the newborn, the external sex characteristics, and is registered on this basis. However, the sex of the newborn is influenced by biological factors other than genetic determination (e.g. disturbances in the hormonal system), so that its physical characteristics cannot always be fully assessed by visual inspection. The development of gender identity is therefore a complex and sensitive process, even from a purely biological point of view, which can change throughout life.
  • Based on this, sexual minorities do not choose their own destiny, gender identity, or sexual orientation, but it is largely determined by complex biological processes beyond their control.
  • In light of all this, experts strongly argue that the development of gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be influenced by environmental influences (e.g. education, “propaganda”).
  • Stigmatization of parents and their children is definitely harmful.
  • If affected young people and children are denied access to information (just as the law in question prescribes), they will be left alone with their questions and uncertainties.

As a consequence, the risk of developing anxiety disorders, self-destructing behavior, substance abuse, depression, and suicidal behavior among the more exposed and vulnerable children and young people concerned (…) increases significantly.”

Featured photo illustration by Márton Mónus/MTI

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