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RTL Klub to fight Media Council decision over banning LGBTQ “Rainbow Families” ad

picture from Rainbow Families PSA

The National Media and Communications Authority’s Media Council ruled the earlier in the week that a PSA produced by the Background Society showing same-sex “rainbow families” ran afoul of the law. The media board, composed exclusively of members from the ruling Fidesz party, found that RTL Klub aired “Family is Family” at an inappropriate time on 11 occasions in December 2020.

In the Media Council’s opinion:

Because it is hard for children to interpret reconciling child raising as done by the same-sex couples in the advertisement together with [the concept of] family, these may only be broadcast between 9:00pm and 5:00am, while the channel showed them between the times of 6:00am and 8:00pm.

In response to the ruling, RTL stated:

RTL Hungary does not agree with the decision and reasoning of the Media Council, and will challenge the decision in court.


Ad featuring LGBTQ families cannot be shown before 9pm, says all-Fidesz Media Council

picture of family is family ad

The National Media and Communications Authority’s Media Council, composed only of members from ruling party Fidesz, ruled this week that a public service announcement by TV station RTL Klub and the Background Society featuring LGBTQ “rainbow families” had violated the law. The Media Council stated that the “Family is Family” PSA was broadcast on RTL Klub 11 times in December 2020 at an inappropriate time.

Although the Fidesz-dominated board acknowledges that “such announcements do not need to have an age-restriction classification,” they can only be shown at a time of day “when, if classified according to their content, it would be appropriate for them [to be shown],” in accordance with Hungary’s current rating system.

Because it is hard for children to interpret reconciling child raising as done by the same-sex couples in the advertisement together with [the concept of] family, these may only be broadcast between 9:00pm and 5:00am, while the channel showed them between the times of 6:00am and 8:00pm.

-wrote the Council in its statement on the issue.

[UPDATE: RTL is fighting the decision]

The offending five-minute PSA is here, with English subtitles:

Last summer, the Hungarian Parliament passed amendments to a law that banned children under 18 from accessing advertisements that “depict sexuality for its own purposes, or promote and display self-identification that deviates from one’s birth gender, the changing of genders, or homosexuality.”

Media Council approves of calling LGBTQ activitists “terrorists”

In a separate decision, the Media Council determined that Catholic priest Zoltán Osztie’s claim that “people in the LGBTQ lobby” were “terrorists” was neither marginalizing nor hateful.

The priest was quoted in, the media outlet for the Christian Democratic (KDNP) party, saying that “people in the LGBTQ lobby are terrorists. They inflict violence on children.”

An NGO subsequently lodged a complaint over the statement, but Hungary’s media authority has now determined that:

In line with the official position and teaching of the Catholic Church, the priest expressed strong criticism opposing activists who promote LGBTQ ideology, but his statement was neither marginalizing nor hateful. The board affirms that the criticism expressed by the parish priest is considered as a political opinion, and thus among statements that are the most protected by freedom of speech. Furthermore, the freedom of expresion also covers statements that are contrary to the spirit and mindset of individual communities. On this basis, the board is not inititating a procedure against the media provider.


Biggest stories of the year in Hungarian politics (part 2)

picture of 2021

“2021 wasn’t a quiet year by any means for Hungarian domestic politics,” writes Azonnali, which highlights its choices for the nine biggest political stories of the year.

In this second of a three-part series, we’ll highlight three more of Azonnali’s picks for the top nine stories of the year in Hungarian politics.

You can find part one of this series here.

The government comes out against the LGBTQ community

After Gábor Kaleta, the former Hungarian ambassador to Peru, received a suspended prison sentence for pedophilia, Fidesz promised in 2020 to increase penalties for sexual offenses committed against minors.

The political opposition initially supported the child protection law, but right before the summer vote in Parliament on the issue, Fidesz made amendments to the law that referred not only to protecting children from pedophiles, but also from homosexuality and gender reassignment.

The law, passed on June 15, ultimately said it would severely punish pedophilia and the dissemination of pedophilic pornography, as well as ban the educational, civic, and media roles of the LGBTQ community, classifying them as propaganda and thus harmful for children.

When the law was finally voted on by the National Assembly, it won the approval of MPs from Jobbik and those formerly in that party, in addition to MPs from ruling parties Fidesz-KDNP. Sándor Székely, a representative of Tibor Szanyi’s newly-formed ISZOMM party, was the lone “no” vote, with the remainder of the opposition simply leaving the building.

Since the law was passed, the government has been working to keep the issue alive in the public discourse. Viktor Orbán announced in one of his Friday morning interviews on Kossuth Rádió that a national consultation and even a referendum on the matter would be held.

Although the opposition legally challenged the questions on Fidesz’s “child protection” referendum, the Curia High Court eventually approved four of them. The government plans to hold its referendum on the same day as Parliamentary elections next spring.

Pegasus – Hungary’s spyware scandal

On July 18, one of the biggest wiretapping scandals in history was revealed when more than 16 media outlets simultaneously published articles on the use of Pegasus spyware in several countries.

Data showed that Pegasus, created by the Israeli NSO Group, was used to monitor nearly 50,000 telephone numbers around the world, including journalists, opposition politicians, and NGO employees and activists.

Journalists at investigative outlet Direkt36 exposed the Hungarian ties, showing in several articles whose phones the Hungarian government was able to access with the help of the spyware. Even Szabolcs Panyi, the author of the Direkt36 article on the subject, was himself one of the targets of the Pegasus software.

The government initially denied purchasing the surveillance software, but Fidesz politician Lajos Kósa accidentally spilled the beans in early November and admitted that the government had employed its use.

Although the opposition held a protest on the issue and polls show that it has hurt the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition, no one has had to resign because of Pegasus, and the case has not had any serious consequences thus far. Although Parliament’s National Security Committee interrogated Interior Minister Sándor Pintér on the matter in a private session, the discussions will not be disclosed to the public until 2050.

Tensions with Norway

Over the summer, Hungary lost money from the Norwegian Fund after the deadline expired for the Hungarian and Norwegian governments to agree on the disbursement of grants from the fund.

Between 2014 and 2021, Hungary would have been eligible for Norwegian Fund grants worth €214.6 million (US $243.2 million). As Norway is not a member of the EU but a part of the EU common market, it provides grants to less affluent states.

However, the Norwegian and Hungarian governments could not agree on the organization that would distribute some 4 billion HUF ($12.3 million) in aid to eligible NGOs – the Norwegians insisted that a civil organization manage the funds, while the Hungarian government wanted a say in allocating it.

As the agreement between Norway and the European Union requires that civic actors be a part of aid distribution, the full amount was not disbursed, and the Hungarian government announced on August 4 that it would be taking legal action for the matter.

Since then, the two countries have not been able to reach an agreement, resulting in Hungary losing the aid. The Hungarian government eventually set up its own fund to replace the Norwegian Fund, but a subsequent investigation by news outlet Átlátszó found that Fidesz politicians had direct control over half of the NGOs who received money from it. be continued…

[Azonnali][Photo by Theo Eilertsen Photography on Unsplash]

Gov’t’s anti-LGBTQ law violates fundamental human rights, says Venice Commission

picture of Budapest pride march

The Venice Commission has issued a comment on the Hungarian Child Protection Act at its recent plenary session, HVG reported. The commission find that the Hungarian law is incompatible with international human rights standards, and that it was hastily adopted without consultation with civil society or the opposition.

The Council of Europe’s advisory body emphasized that neither on the basis of public morality nor on the protection of minors could the government have taken a decision restricting people with homosexual or gendered identities.

The committee also stressed that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), so the law cannot contravene it. They noted that terms that were too broad, inaccurate, and clumsy could lead to varying interpretations. As they stated:

…the National Public Education Act is not in accordance with international human rights standards and constitutional norms, as it deprives individuals under 18 years of access to adequate sex education and objective information, appropriate to their age and development, about different forms of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics that today exist in every society. It may result in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The commission delivered a harsh final assessment of the anti-LGBTQ amendment to the Child Protection Act:

In sum, the Venice Commission considers this amendment to be in breach of the right to family life enshrined in Article 8 ECHR, and the right of parents to educate and teach their children in conformity with their own convictions,

Originally, the government only intended the law to set criminal restrictions on pedophilia and create a searchable pedophile registry, sparking an unusually wide consensus within Parliament on the proposal.

However, subsequent amendments appeared to target the LGBTQ community, turning most of the opposition away from the bill although it was still voted into law by the pro-governing parties.


Gov’t plans to run “strong campaign” on anti-LGBTQ themes

picture of Antal Rogán

The government firmly rejects LGBTQ propaganda directed at children, and will run a “strong campaign” ahead of next year’s referendum on the subject, said Antal Rogán, the head of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet (pictured), at an annual hearing in the Justice Committee in Parliament on Monday.

Rogán said that as many people as possible should make sure they vote in the “child protection” referendum. The government’s position on the issue is well-known, he said: Hungarians should vote “no” on all four questions in the referendum.

The Cabinet head also stated that in addition to the referendum, the government will emphasize the importance of coronavirus vaccinations over the next few months.

He said all means will be used to ensure that 70% of those those who have already been vaccinated will receive their third vaccination by the end of January. He also does not see a need for vaccine mandates, believing that informational campaigns and personal messages sent to as many people as possible make enough of an impact. In addition, the government is planning more Vaccine Weeks, said Antal Rogán.


Magyar Nemzet complains to media authority over non-binary animated bison

picture of Fred the bison

Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet has complained to the National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) about a non-binary bison in a Netflix animated show, summarizes Telex from a Média1 story.

The paper’s complaint is that the character Fred appears in a show without an age rating, which Magyar Nemzet claims violates Hungary’s media law. Incidentally, another character in the series has two fathers.

However, NMHH, which has recently had a change of leadership, only has jurisdiction over media service providers registered in Hungary. As Netflix’s European headquarters is in the Netherlands, the media authority cannot take action on the matter. The Hungarian Media Act, says NMHH, does not apply to foreign-based media companies.

Magyar Nemzet was also able to crack down on Netflix because of the Hungarian anti-gay law originally intended as anti-pedophile, which has had the effect of restricting media portrayals of those in the LGBTQ community.

The Los Angeles Times notes that Fred is the first such regular character to appear in programming for preschoolers.

[Telex][Photo: Netflix]