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In Hungary, an Embattled L.G.B.T.Q. Neighborhood Takes to the Streets

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BUDAPEST — Defiant, colourful and proud, hundreds of Hungarians marched by means of Budapest on Saturday to assist the nation’s embattled L.G.B.T.Q. group and to protest the far-right insurance policies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

This 12 months’s Budapest Satisfaction march had all the trimmings of celebration however it was additionally a protest, its organizers mentioned, towards a just lately handed regulation that critics say equates homosexuality with pedophilia and positioned strict limits on sexual schooling, together with banning the portrayal of L.G.B.T.Q. life to minors. The regulation is commonly in comparison with a 2013 Russian regulation banning “homosexual propaganda” that has been broadly criticized by rights teams.

Many members within the march mentioned that the regulation was an alarming symptom of rising authoritarianism within the central European nation.

“We’re standing in solidarity with the L.G.B.T.Q. group however we’re additionally standing with anybody threatened by international authoritarian discourse,” mentioned Zoltan Adam, an affiliate professor of economics at Corvinus College of Budapest. “This regulation is one other step towards authoritarianism taken by this authorities.”

Since returning to energy in 2010, Mr. Orban, whose authorities enjoys a supermajority in Parliament that permits him to amend the structure, has launched legal guidelines primarily based on his interpretation of Christian and conventional household values, whereas selling a view of society that differs from the progressive liberalism of the West.

The brand new regulation has already borne outcomes. One tv channel has censored commercials for soap operas. The nation’s second-largest bookstore chain put up indicators saying they promote “nontraditional content material” after being fined $830 for not labeling a ebook portraying same-sex dad and mom as “content material which deviates from the norm.”

The much less seen outcomes could also be extra damaging.

“This regulation could have a tragic impact on younger individuals, with elevated suicides and an increase in psychological well being points,” mentioned Andras Szolnay, 55, who wore an electrical blue wig and traveled from the jap metropolis of Debrecen to attend the delight march.

He mentioned that when he was an adolescent in communist Hungary, “it was freer than it’s now, there was no homophobia or transphobia.” However now, he mentioned, “there’s a regression.”

Organizers mentioned attendance on the march seemed to be the most important in its 26-year historical past, with the procession taking 40 minutes to cross by means of the streets of the town. Some members wore T-shirts emblazoned with “grownup content material” and “Hungary” wrapped across the quantity 18, a nod to the truth that the regulation bans “depicting or selling” homosexuality and gender transitions in entrance of minors below the age of 18.

This week, Mr. Orban introduced {that a} referendum on the regulation could be held by early 2022, forward of nationwide elections subsequent April.

“This makes homosexual individuals really feel like they’re public enemies,” mentioned Peter Kreko, the director of Political Capital, a Budapest analysis group.

Although Mr. Orban has asserted that he represents the vast majority of Hungarians, a ballot launched in mid-June by Zavecz Analysis discovered that 56 p.c of Hungarians settle for homosexuality and one other ballot on the similar time by Ipsos concluded that 46 p.c of these surveyed assist same-sex marriage. One other Ipsos ballot in Could concluded that the identical variety of individuals imagine same-sex {couples} ought to have the identical rights to undertake as heterosexuals.

Analysts observe that whereas Mr. Orban is a conservative, the regulation appears meant to distract from the nation’s dire well being and financial circumstances within the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and an effort to interrupt the unity of a coalition of opposition events that has united to oust him within the upcoming elections.

Mr. Orban’s social gathering, Fidesz, “is doing this for its personal functions: they should attain the novel wing of the social gathering and that is one potential approach to do it,” mentioned Zselyke Csaky of the American democracy watchdog Freedom Home.

“Many have misplaced jobs or are in a troublesome state of affairs after Covid, and such ideological messaging can work properly with them,” she mentioned.

Others say that the regulation, which is vaguely written, is an try and shift the main focus away from latest corruption scandals and democratic deficiencies to id politics. Hungary has repeatedly clashed with the European Union, which it joined in 2004, over these insurance policies.

The 27-member bloc has initiated two separate authorized procedures towards Hungary over the just lately handed regulation. The European Union has additionally delayed and threatened to withhold fee of $8.5 billion in post-coronavirus restoration support over issues about Hungary’s judicial independence and shortcomings in its anti-corruption technique.

Mr. Orban has sought accountable the funding delays on his safety of household values.

“Corruption is talked about loads, however it’s clearly a canopy story,” he mentioned on Friday.

Audio system on the delight march didn’t purchase it.

“The Hungarian authorities is organizing a hate and concern marketing campaign and scapegoating the L.G.B.T.Q. group to distract from systemic corruption,” Terry Reintke, a member of the European Parliament for the German Inexperienced social gathering, mentioned simply earlier than the marchers set off.

“This goes past Hungary — this can be a European problem.”

On the delight march, Szonia Szabo, 15, questioned how her education is likely to be affected by the brand new regulation. However principally she apprehensive for her friends, who’re nonetheless exploring their identities, and for her family and friends who determine as L.G.B.T.Q.

“A few of them reside overseas, they usually now not really feel secure returning to Hungary due to the regulation,” she mentioned.

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