EU leaders pressure Hungary to drop “discriminatory” laws
Several EU leaders have insisted that discrimination must not be tolerated in the 27-nation bloc, setting the stage for a heated summit on new legislation in Hungary that would ban showing content on LGBT issues to children.
The Hungarian parliament passed the bill last week, but it must be approved by the president to enter into force. It prohibits sharing of content about homosexuality or gender reassignment with anyone under the age of 18 in school sex education programs, movies, or advertisements.
The government says it will protect children, but critics say it links homosexuality to pedophilia.
Speaking on his arrival at the meeting in Brussels, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ruled out withdrawing the law, insisting it does not target gays.
“It’s not about homosexuality, it’s about children and parents,” Orban said, posing as a protector of homosexuals.
“I am a freedom fighter in the communist regime. Homosexuality was punished and I fought for their freedom and their rights, ”he said. “I defend the rights of homosexuals but this law does not concern them. “
The issue has shone the spotlight on the EU’s inability to curb “illiberal democracies” among its ranks like Hungary and Poland, whose deeply conservative, nationalist and anti-migrant governments have flouted democratic norms and values. of the block for years.
It also took center stage at Europe’s premier international football tournament, where the continent’s football governing body, UEFA, rejected host city Munich’s plan to display the colors of the rainbow during a match between Germany and Hungary at the European Championship on Wednesday evening.
In their coordinated messages on Twitter, several European leaders wrote that “hatred, intolerance and discrimination have no place in our Union. This is why, today and every day, we defend LGBTI diversity and equality so that our future generations can grow up in a Europe of equality and respect.
Many attached to their tweets a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, who will host their summit later on Thursday, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who will also attend the meeting.
“Respect and tolerance are at the heart of the European project. We are committed to continuing this effort, ensuring that future European generations grow up in an atmosphere of equality and respect, ”said the letter, signed by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain, among others.
Hungary was not mentioned by name, but many of the same leaders signed a letter earlier this week backed by 17 countries calling on the von der Leyen commission, which monitors EU laws, to bring the government back of Budapest before the European Court of Justice on the bill.
The commission has already taken the first step in legal action. On Wednesday, Brussels sent a letter to the Hungarian Minister of Justice asking for “clarifications, explanations and information” on elements of the bill.
He said some provisions appeared to “directly violate the prohibition on discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation” and would put homosexuality, gender reassignment and divergence from personal identity “on the same. foot than pornography ”.
Asked Thursday about the Hungarian bill, Guterres said that “all forms of discrimination are totally unacceptable and obviously any form of discrimination against LGBTQ + people is totally unacceptable”.
Speaking after a meeting with Guterres, European Parliament President David Sassoli said a mechanism making payments to Hungary from a COVID-19 recovery fund conditional on compliance with the rule of law should be activated.
“The time has come for the law to be enforced,” Sassoli said.