In a move against the LGBTQI+ community, Hungary’s ruling party (the Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban) adopted a law on 15 June 2021 which bans content promoting homosexuality or gender change in schools throughout the country. The amendment states that children under the age of 18 cannot be shown any content (including advertisements) encouraging homosexuality or gender change. The bill will additionally set up a list of organisations permitted to teach sex education in schools.
The legislation has been criticised for repressing freedom of speech and diversity under the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the mental health of LGBTQI+ minors could be negatively impacted by preventing them from receiving information and support. Orban’s government, which has been in power since 2010, has already limited gay adoption, outlawed legal status for transgender people, and redefined marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Several human rights groups have criticised the new bill.
The following statement from RTL Hungary was released before the passing of the bill:
Diversity and tolerance, including the protection of families and children, is of paramount importance to RTL Hungary, as reflected by our program policy and social responsibility. We are therefore extremely concerned that a bill submitted last week seriously violates freedom of expression and the non-discrimination principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The new law disregards freedom of speech by restricting homosexuality in the media and moreover, prohibits minors from watching different gender identities in programmes, films or even advertisements. According to the bill, films such as Billy Elliot, Philadelphia, Bridget Jones’s Diary or even Harry Potter can only be shown to an audience over the age of 18 late at night, and programmes such as Modern Family, Friends or Neighbours will also be restricted.
The legislation will cause significant economic damage to the national media market in Hungary by making it more difficult for viewers to access certain content. More importantly, sexual minorities will be excluded from mass media, making it impossible to combat negative stereotypes in today’s society.
We are proud of the diversity of our colleagues and our society, and we are proud to have many non-heterosexuals as employees and in our audiences. We stand together with them and protest against the fact that, because of the bill, people with a gender identity other than the majority could only be portrayed under certain conditions and only during late-night timeframes.
RTL Group supports RTL Hungary with the following statement:
Freedom of expression and diversity are at the heart of RTL Group.
This is explicitly expressed in our mission statement which says: “We embrace independence and diversity in our people, our content and our businesses.”
We offer our audiences the broadest and most inclusive spectrum of entertainment and information programmes possible: high-quality programming for all – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
We fully support our colleagues at RTL Hungary in their protest against the bill.