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What are the rights of LGBTQ children in Hungary?

Posted on Apr 28, 2022
Our member, Hintalovon, in Hungary, shares how misconceptions and ambiguity in legislation is affecting the rights of LGBTQ children.

In Hungary, a 12 year old child can lawfully engage in sexual activities with anyone younger than 18. Once a child reaches the age of 14, he or she can have sex with anyone. Yet, sexual education that goes beyond the discussion of anatomy and STDs is not part of the school curriculum. Since the middle 2021 sexual educational programs have basically been banned from schools.Any and all discussions on the topic of homosexuality to children within educational settings, is not allowed—not to even mention discussing different sexual identities and orientations. 

Taking into account the taboo of sexuality and the divisive political dimensions that have enveloped this topic over the last few years, it is unlikely that there will be space in the near future for comprehensive sexual education programs, or anyway qualified professionals, will be permitted to provide a safe space for children in these matters.   

Sadly,the aforementioned cuts to children’s sexual education have been lumped with the same legislationof the so-called ‘peadophile database’. This has essentially categorised discussing (or what they call ‘promoting’) LGBTQ topics with that of sexual assault 

Erroneous preconceptions and unfounded scientific statements, such as “gay people change their partners more frequently and they tend to engage in sexual relationships with big age gaps” have been used to not only diminish the seriousness of same sex sexual abuse but has also brought into the question  whether sexual abuse by a same sex individual makes children gay. This is an altogether bad place to be when it comes to the issues of LGBTQ issues, children’s sexual orientation, and the discussions surrounding consent and sexual abuse. This world view diminishes the crucial requirement of children’s rights and the necessary issue of mutual consent. 

As a child rights foundation working in parallel to protect children from sexual abuse, we stand for advocating for sex education, highlighting the importance of more inclusive societies for children with different sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, we have to pay close attention to how we discuss and represent these issues.   

Since the enactment of this legislative package our work has been hindered by not only the difficult public environment, but the ambiguous legal environment as well. The legislation operates with terms such as the illegality of ‘displaying and promoting’ homosexuality, however there is no definition on what this entails.Therefore, it has been debated whether some of our operations, programs, research, etc. falls under this category. 

Only a month after we published the national report on ECPAT Global Boys Initiative, and on the same day of the general election, a referendum was held aboutchild protectionwith questions such as: 

  • ‘Do you support allowing children in public schools to participate in sexual orientation classes without parental consent?’,  
  • ‘Do you support giving children information about gender reassignment treatments?’;and  
  • ‘Are you in favor of allowing media content of a sexual nature that affects children’s development to be presented to them without restrictions?’. 

Although the percentage of no votes were relatively high (95%), many of voters (some 20%) cast an invalid vote on the four questions or did not even ask for the referendum voting-paper. The referendum was eventually deemed invalid, yet we are still waiting for what will happen in the Hungarian Parliament concerning to these issues.    

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