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Venice Commission: Child protection law ‘incompatible’ with international human rights norms

The Venice Commission has said amendments to Hungary's child protection law were "incompatible" with international human rights norms.

In a statement on Monday, the Strasbourg body said it was regrettable that the law which came into force in June had been passed hastily and without prior consultation with civil society, the opposition or other stakeholders. This also entailed setting aside the Venice Commission’s previous recommendations, it added.

Questions of public morality and the protection of children are not grounds for a blanket prohibition or restriction of the depiction of gender reassignment or homosexuality, the statement said, adding that the rules were not directed at overtly sexual content or obscenity, and may therefore curb the expression of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Council of Europe advisory body said gender in terms of personal identity and homosexuality as a variant of sexual orientation are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Also, legal definitions that are too broad, imprecise, or ambiguous may result in different interpretations of a legal text, it added.

The statement said Hungary was obliged to provide children with objective and impartial information on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as protecting them from discrimination.

Yet, the law could create a “threatening environment” where children in the LGBTQ community may be exposed to health risks, intimidation and harassment, it added.

Further, certain provisions in the law violate the right to family life codified in the Human Rights Convention, so trample on the right of parents to freely raise and educate their children.

The law could result in stigmatisation and discrimination against LGBT communities, the statement said.

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