EU leaders confront Orban in Hungary over LGBT law

The European Union has threatened Hungary’s Viktor Orban with legal action before the European Court of Justice unless he abandons the LGBT law, which the commission has described as discriminatory.

Member states, including Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, will lead the charge against the Hungarian prime minister at an EU summit on Thursday over a bill that would prevent gay or transgender people from appearing on materials in schools for those under 18, according to several diplomats.

The clash comes after rising tensions between EU countries and the national government in Budapest, which has argued that issues of sexual orientation should not be taught in schools.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said the bill, which requires the final approval of Hungary’s president, conflicts with basic rights.

“This law clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation,” she said on Wednesday. “It goes against the core values ​​of the European Union: human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.”

“The law is wrong,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

Brussels and many EU capitals have intensified their condemnation of Orbán’s right-wing government after years of tensions with Budapest over the rule of law. An EU diplomat said the LGBT+ bill reflects one of the “worst moments” in EU-Hungary relations.

In a letter to Budapest’s justice minister on Wednesday, EU commissioners Didier Reynders and Thierry Breton said Brussels “will not hesitate to take action in line with its powers under the treaty”, if the bill receives final approval in its current form.

The EU has limited powers to demand amendments to draft legislation, but it can sue member states that violate its treaties in the European Court of Justice. The Commission’s letter lists the range of laws that have been violated by Hungary’s LGBT+ legislation, including the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, audiovisual and media regulations, and rules governing the provision of services in the single market.

The committee said that the bill in fact equated homosexuality and transgender issues as being “on an equal footing with pornography and considered capable of exerting a negative impact on the physical and moral development of minors”.

The anti-gay bill in Budapest has also raised tensions with UEFA, which refuses to light up Munich’s Allianz Arena with rainbow colors for Wednesday’s match between Hungary and Germany at the European Football Championship 2020. UEFA said the move breached its ban on Presentation of political symbols under the “political context” in Hungary.

The Hungarian government argued that the bill was designed “to protect children’s rights and guarantee parental rights and does not apply to the sexual orientation rights of those over the age of 18, so it does not contain any discriminatory elements”.

“The statement of the Chairman of the Committee is a disgrace because it publishes a biased political opinion without a previous impartial investigation,” a statement from the Fidesz government read.

A senior EU diplomat said countries would use Thursday’s summit to persuade Orban to back down on law enforcement. In the past, Orban’s government has reverted to legislation. Let’s hope this is done quickly because [LGBT+ bill] It is beyond what we can accept.”

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