Hungary-EU conflict over LGBTQ rights escalates
BUDAPEST / BRUSSELS – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday promised he would not give in to pressure from the European Union to repeal a new law banning schools from using material considered to promote homosexuality, as lawmakers of the bloc demanded sanctions for the legislation.
The law, which came into effect on Thursday, has put Orban on a collision course with rights groups, the EU Executive Board and other leaders who say it goes against the principles fundamentals of the block.
“The European Parliament and the European Commission want us to let LGBTQ activists and organizations into kindergartens and schools. Hungary doesn’t want that,” Orban said on his official Facebook page.
“Here, the Brussels bureaucrats have nothing to do, whatever they do, we will not leave LGBTQ activists among our children.” The issue was one of national sovereignty, he added.
Critics say the law wrongly associates pedophilia and pornography with LGBTQ issues. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU’s Executive Commission, called this “shame”.
Later Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the law and demanding that EU countries and the European Commission use all powers to stop it.
The non-binding resolution – passed with 459 votes in favor and 147 against – included calls for the Commission to launch so-called infringement proceedings against EU members who violate the bloc’s laws.
“LGBTIQ rights are human rights,” said the resolution, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, as well as those who question their sexual orientation.
He also called for a separate legal process from the EU that can cut funding to member countries that undermine the rule of law. The effectiveness of this new mechanism has yet to be tested.
Orban, in power since 2010 and facing a tough election next year, has become increasingly radical on social policy in a self-proclaimed crusade to protect what he says are the traditional Christian values of Western liberalism.
On Thursday, NGOs Amnesty International and Hatter Society flew a huge rainbow heart-shaped balloon above the Hungarian parliament in protest against the law.
“Its aim is to erase LGBTQI people from the public sphere,” David Vigh, director of Amnesty International Hungary, said of the law, which he has sworn not to respect.
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