On 13 February 2023, the infringement procedure initiated by the European Commission against Hungary’s 2021 ‘anti-LGBTIQ+ propaganda’ law was published in the Official Journal of the EU. On that day, Forbidden Colours, Háttér Society and Reclaim launched an EU-wide petition to request every EU Member States to provide ‘written observations’ to the Court of Justice of the EU regarding this case.
With at least 20 Member States likely to engage, this infringement procedure is expected to become the largest human rights’ infringement procedure ever brought in front of the Court of Justice of the European Union. This case is not only important to end the censorship currently endured by LGBTIQ+ people and organisations in Hungary, but also to protect all LGBTIQ+ people in the EU from the adoption of similar laws in their country.
“The government of Hungary, a Member State of the European Union, is copy-pasting Russian laws and censoring its LGBTIQ+ communities…” explained Rémy Bonny – executive director of Forbidden Colours. “We must do everything in our power to protect all Hungarian citizens from this harmful Putin-style ideology.”
“Every Hungarian citizen deserves freedom, and children have the right to information about sexuality and gender…” added Bonny. “We must make this the biggest human rights case in the legal history of the European Union: to protect our citizens, human rights and democracy.”
What’s the issue in Hungary?
On 15 June 2021, the Hungarian Parliament adopted Act LXXIX of 2021 which was described as enhancing the protection of children.
Amendments during the legislative process introduced anti-LGBTIQ+ provisions. In particular, the act amended the Child Protection Act, the Family Protection Act, the National Public Education Act, the Advertisement Act, and the Media Act to introduce a ban on access of minors to any content that “propagates or portrays divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change or homosexuality.” With these last-minute amendments, the so-called ‘child protection law’ became the Hungarian version of the ‘anti-LGBT propaganda law’ adopted in Russia in 2013.
On 15 July 2021, the European Commission announced the launch of an infringement procedure against Hungary regarding this law. The Commission then considered that this so-called ‘child protection law’ violates EU secondary law such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the e-commerce Directive, and the Services Directive. Moreover, the European Commission emphasized that the “provisions [of that law] also violate human dignity, freedom of expression and information, the right to respect of private life as well as the right to non-discrimination” enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Finally, it considered that the law violates our common EU values laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.
Furthermore, as denounced by Eurochild, this law “clearly violates children’s rights as laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Hungary has been bound since 1991. Children have the right to healthy development, freedom of expression, self-identity, inclusive education, and access to justice. This legislation violates all these rights and risks harming the very children it claims to protect”.
After a failed dialogue, the European Commission announced on 15 July 2022 that the case would be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The case was filed on 19 December 2022 and published in the Official Journal of the EU on 13 February 2023. EU Member States now have six weeks to submit written observations on the case to the CJEU.
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