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Hungary's Lawmakers Ban Portrayals of Homosexuality to Minors

FILE - People gather at a giant rainbow flag during a rally in front of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, June. 14, 2021, calling on lawmakers to reject legislation banning any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment to minors.

Hungary’s Parliament passed a bill Tuesday banning homosexuality in any content portraying or "promoting" homosexuality or sex reassignment to anyone under 18.

Hungary’s National Assembly passed the bill on a 157-1 vote. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz Party has a parliamentary majority, and lawmakers from the right-wing Jobbik Party also endorsed the measure. One independent lawmaker voted against it.

Under the law, any educational programs, advertisements, books, movies or television programs depicting homosexuality or other gender minorities in a positive light will no longer be allowed.

The ruling party defends the legislation, saying it is designed to prevent pedophilia. But human rights groups say it will be used to harass and stigmatize Hungarian citizens based on sexual orientation and gender identities.

The Council of Europe has condemned the bill as "misleading and false," as have several NGOs, including Amnesty International.

On her Twitter account, Lydia Gall, Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Eastern Europe, said, "Associating pedophilia with LGBT people, banning comprehensive sexuality education and stifling free speech is despicable and unworthy of an EU member state."

She urged the European Commission — the EU’s executive branch — to act.

The vote came a day after thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Budapest, to denounce the law and the government's "constant propaganda" against the LGBT community.

On his Facebook page Tuesday, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony wrote, “On this shameful day, the opposition should not be in the parliament but on the streets.”

On his Twitter account, German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth wrote, “Today's decision in Hungary’s parliament represents another severe state discrimination against LGBTIQ people. This law goes against everything we regard as our common European values. Full solidarity and support for LGBTIQ people in Hungary.”