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Clara Ferreira Marques

Autocrats Are Weaponizing Homophobia

Viktor Orban’s latest attack on Hungary’s LGBTQ community takes a leaf from the Kremlin playbook. It’s less about sexual orientation than about power.

No change in colors yet for Viktor Orban.

No change in colors yet for Viktor Orban.

Photographer: Gergely Besenyei/AFP/Getty

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Hungary’s parliament this month approved legislation that outlaws school materials and other content for the young deemed to “promote homosexuality.” The effort to marginalize the LGBTQ community and link it with pedophilia has outraged many fellow European states and is straining the 27-member Union. Discrimination against gay and transgender people is an increasingly popular ploy for strongmen keen to distract attention from faltering popularity, and this is no exception. The personal, political and economic scars will endure.

The bloc’s more reactionary governments have been testing limits of what is permissible for some time, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who rails frequently about the evils of immigration and liberalism, is often leading the charge. He has already, among other steps, effectively banned adoption for same-sex partners and made it impossible for Hungarians to legally change their gender. This new law, ostensibly about child protection, makes inclusion even harder.