Hungary rejects EU demand to drop ‘shameful’ anti-LGBT law


BRUSSELS, July 7 (Reuters) – Hungary on Wednesday rejected a demand by the European Commission and many EU lawmakers to repeal new legislation banning schools from using material believed to promote homosexuality.

Last month, EU leaders blasted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for the legislation during a tense closed-door discussion, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte telling Budapest to respect the EU’s values ​​of tolerance or leave the block.

“Homosexuality is assimilated to pornography. This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU Executive Commission in the European Parliament . “It’s a shame.”

The Commission can open a new lawsuit against Hungary in the European Court of Justice or use a new mechanism designed to protect the rule of law in the bloc of 27 countries by freezing funding to countries that undermine democratic standards.

Orban, who faces a national election next year, said the new law aims to protect children and does not discriminate against sexual minorities.

His chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, reiterated this position on Wednesday: “Brussels’ efforts to allow LGBTQ activists to enter schools and kindergartens are in vain, we are unwilling to do so.”

The case is the latest outbreak between Hungary and the EU, which has already launched an investigation against Budapest for undermining democracy. Orban has gradually tightened restrictions on media, NGOs, academics and migrants despite criticism from Brussels, international watchdogs and rights groups.

Protesters attend a protest against a law banning LGBTQ content in schools and the media at the Presidential Palace in Budapest, Hungary, June 16, 2021. REUTERS / Bernadett Szabo / File Photo

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Hungary’s conservative ally Poland is expected to block any attempt to impose the maximum European sanction of suspending Budapest’s voting rights in the 27-nation bloc.

‘OFFENSIVE AND HONEST’

EU lawmakers have urged the Commission not to pay Hungary funds to support its economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic if they are to contribute to Budapest’s anti-LGBT agenda or before it does. can provide strong anti-fraud protection.

Discrimination against LGBTI + people is illegal in the EU, said Iraxte Garcia Perez, Spain’s EU lawmaker and leader of the socialist faction in the European Parliament.

“This is why the new law in Hungary must be repealed. An offensive and shameful law that goes against human rights.”

Lawmakers have also spoken out against the so-called “LGBT-free zones” that some local authorities have established in Poland, which are also the subject of legal proceedings by the EU.

On the other end of the spectrum, Spain last month became the first major EU country to approve a bill allowing anyone over the age of 14 to legally change their sex without a medical diagnosis or hormone treatment. .

French President Emmanuel Macron has called the division over values ​​between the liberal West and more conservative eastern countries such as Hungary and Poland as a “cultural battle” that undermines the unity of the EU.

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Toby Chopra, Giles Elgood and Gareth Jones

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