#Ukraine Temporary protection card extended until 2025

A new low in hate speech against LGBTQI people in Hungary

Translation is available for this content

Váltás magyarra

On November 23, the Curia (also known as the Supreme Court of Hungary) found that an article published by the Hungarian media giant Mediaworks does not violate Labrisz Lesbian Association’s right to good reputation by calling them pedophiles – without any proof. This decision was brought after two years of litigation that started with a favorable judgement at first instance.

After the 2020 publication of the children’s book, Fidesz launched a smear campaign not only against the association fighting for the acceptance of the LGBTQI community since 1999, but also against the entire LGBTQI community. The wave of hatred evolved into the Propaganda Law in 2021 (that banned LGBTQI-themed educational programmes, products, and advertising seen by children under 18 – and is eerily similar to the Russian homophobic law of 2013) and the failed anti-LGBTQI referendum in April 2022 (on which 1.6 million Hungarians cast invalid votes in protest). 

Deliberately confusing homosexuality with pedophilia has been the central element of the government’s campaign. Labrisz and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee sued Mediaworks, a Hungarian publisher in government-friendly hands, for a 12 October 2020 article in the already out-of-print Magyar Nemzet newspaper. In that, the author claims: “We have to judge the Fairyland is for Everyone book as pedophilia, and Labrisz Lesbian Association as a pedophile organisation. Because after all, that’s what they are.” He failed to prove his words in any way.

The organisation won the lawsuit at first instance last November. But the final judgement of the Budapest Regional Court of Appeals turned out to be exactly the opposite. Neither Mediaworks was obliged to apologise, nor could Labrisz claim compensation for damages. The recent Curia verdict maintained this judgement.

The verdict’s reasoning is not free of absurdities: “The article didn’t claim that the plaintiff is a pedophile organisation, and it didn’t even declare that the book entitled Fairyland is for Everyone would popularise pedophilia.”, even though we could hardly interpret the text in any other way. Moreover, the Curia also reasoned that the article “is not self-serving abuse” – “its author expressed his powerfully worded, condemning value judgement in relation to a public manifestation, and it enjoys the freedom of expression.” 

“Though the Curia appears to stand by the freedom of speech, its present decision is false, even harmful, because it extremely blurs the line between the opinion deserving constitutional protection and illegal, indefensible abuse. We also find it unconstitutional that neither the court of second instance nor the Curia allowed Labrisz to record what was said on its own hearing.”, said Tamás Fazekas, attorney of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

This ruling clearly illustrates the double standards of the Hungarian government, already present in the judicial system as well: now it acts as if Hungary were the spearhead of free speech and democratic values, while the above-mentioned Propaganda Law silenced LGBTQI people, provoking hatred and incitement against them, and also making scientific dialogue and outreach work on homosexuality and transgenderness impossible.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee won’t accept the Curia’s recent decision and will turn to the Constitutional Court in Labrisz’s case.

Subscribe to our advocacy list!

Receive our fresh reports and analyses straight to your inbox by signing up here!

Subscribe to advocacy list
Hungarian Helsinki Committee