The background

On November 10, 2020, the Hungarian minister of justice submitted a bill that required all single parents looking to adopt children to be approved by the Ministry for Family Affairs, instead of by adoptive professionals. On that same day, the Hungarian government also submitted a bill to modify Hungary’s constitution to state that “a father is a man, a mother is a woman,” signaling that they don’t intend to accept adoption applications from members of the LGBTQ+ community. In Hungary, same-sex couples are prohibited from adopting jointly. With these two bills, they made it significantly more difficult for children to be adopted by single parents, and impossible by same-sex parents.

The first campaign

The “Family is family” campaign was created to start a calm, educative, and fact-based conversation about nontraditional family models, and to show people that children who had already been adopted by same-sex couples experience discrimination. Publicis Groupe Hungary collaborated with the NGO Háttér Society and two wonderful dads to find the right tone.

The campaign’s main element was a video where LGBTQ+ parents and experts (psychologists, early childhood educators, therapists, etc.) addressed anonymous and often hateful comments from the internet to help shed light on the diversity of families and to debunk common misconceptions. Its main message was that every child deserves the same rights, and they all deserve to be loved and cared for. And that family is family, even when your parents happen to be of the same sex.

Immense support

The campaign logo represented three genderless figures (two adults and one child) in rainbow colors, and it took social media by storm. They quickly generated more than 3,500 hashtags on Instagram and more than 2,000 on Facebook. About 40,000 people put these figures on their profile picture on Facebook to show their support, and our video quickly gained 6.6 million views on Tik Tok.

More than 100 public figures stood by the campaign, and some of them had not spoken up for anything like this before. The video we created was broadcast for two weeks on Hungary’s main commercial channel, RTL Klub, and reached millions of viewers.

People seemed to easily connect with this important topic. Personal stories kept popping up everywhere, and the three little genderless figures started appearing on tote bags, pins, mugs, and even on people’s skin, as tattoos.

The international media’s interest in this campaign led to a joint declaration of support from 40 companies, followed by 110 more, and 10 embassies also proudly stood by the cause.

Changing gears

In June 2021, the Hungarian government submitted another bill, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality for underage children; the depiction of homosexual relationships at schools, in television, and in advertisements; and they also banned NGOs from holding sexual education lectures at schools. The bill was said to protect children from pedophilia, yet it only sent the message that there’s no distinction between the LGBTQ+ community and pedophiles.

This direct political attack led to resistance, uproar, and the second part of the “Family is family” campaign.

On World Children’s Day, we launched three videos that depict two plush figures talking about how similar their experiences with their families are. The structure is always the same, and the viewer realizes at the end that one of the bunnies belongs to a traditional family model, whereas the other is a rainbow family member.

All over the country we used citylights and huge billboards to spread the message: “For the things that matter, there’s no difference.”

As the 2022 Hungarian national elections were nearing, the government continued to vilify the LGBTQ+ community, justifying their campaign by spreading the message that they only want to protect children. Sadly, it’s the children who suffer the most, as there are far more children in public care than families to adopt them, and current laws only make it more difficult or impossible for both parties. It’s time we all had a calm and fact-based conversation about this very important topic. Because family is family.

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This article was published originally on Publicus Hungary Groupe's website: