Skip to main content

Photo:Election 2018 in Hungary. Taken on the 8th of April, 2018, around 23.35. Bálna, Budapest. Orbán Viktor announcing the victory of the FIDESZ party.“, by Elekes Andor licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0. Hue modified from the original.

Linnamäki, Katinka. “Not in Front of the Child: Illiberal Familism and the Hungarian Anti‐LGBTQ+ “Child Protective Law”.” Politics and Governance 10, no. 4 (2022): 16-25.


Research on familialism in Europe usually focuses on family policies, pointing out how female reproductive and work rights are often contrasted with the interest of the family, as shown by the individualism vs. familism understanding of familism (familialism). Here, however, I focus on another understanding of familism that sees the family as the model for other social institutions. This novel angle on the European context enables research on a scarcely researched aspect: how familism is used to render non‐heterosexual rights illegitimate. Turning to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s rhetorical understanding of politics, I show how the rhetorical use of the family legitimizes anti‐LGBTQ+ sentiments. I focus on the Hungarian “Child Protective Law,” passed by the illiberal Fidesz‐KDNP government in 2021. The content analysis of the material shows how the Hungarian government’s aspiration to protect children, both as crucial members of heterosexual nuclear families as well as symbols of the illiberalist future of the country, legitimizes anti‐LGBTQ+ stances. This happens, first, through a discursive link between LGBTQ+ people and child abuse. Second, it occurs through the government´s familistic ideal of the Christian heterosexual family, which also constitutes its antagonistic frontier as the LGBTQ+ community. I argue for a new articulation of the illiberal “us” and its liberal frontier, where the ideal family, and in particular heterosexuality, function as a means of exclusion. This article contributes to existing literature on gender and illiberalism as well as to current discussions on the limits of the theoretical concepts of familism.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.