A number of MEPs have condemned Hungary’s decision to block a Europe-wide agreement on LGBT rights.
The Dutch government, which currently holds the EU Presidency, had tabled a draft agreement at the Council of the European Union this week, which called on the European Commission to tackle homophobic and transphobic discrimination, promote measures to advance LGBTI equality, and step up efforts to collect data on the treatment of LGBTI citizens.
The agreement has been welcomed by the majority of member countries – with conservative countries including Latvia, Lithuania and Poland dropping their initial reservations.
However, the agreement was vetoed by the representatives for Hungary – the same day it blocked a proposed deal with Turkey on the migration crisis.
Following the news, three members of the EU’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights have spoken out against the decision.
Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek said: “I strongly welcome the efforts by the Dutch Presidency to put this on the agenda and the attempt to reach unanimous Council Conclusions on the List of Actions.”
“Although it is disappointing that the Hungarian government has taken this as an opportunity to show itself from its most homophobic side, the broad agreement among all other Member States is really a promising sign of increased LGBTI acceptance across Europe.”
Italy’s Daniele Viotti MEP, continued: “The support by 27 Member States for EU action on LGBTI equality, should give the Commission, Parliament and Member States the necessary backing to continue working towards full equality for LGBTI people.”
“We cannot let one country halt all progress on LGBTI rights. Equality simply cannot wait any longer!”
Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld added: “The Dutch Presidency has demonstrated a clear commitment to getting the rights of LGBTI people on the Council’s agenda. I call on them, and on other allies in the Council, to intensify their efforts in convincing Hungary to ensure a successful Dutch Presidency for LGBTI people.”
The UK’s only Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, told PinkNews yesterday in a statement: “The EU has played a vital role in advancing LGBTI rights across the continent in recent year, including by making it illegal to refuse someone a job on the grounds of sexual orientation.
“But the reality is that in some European countries LBGTI people still face daily persecution and discrimination.
“It is a disgrace that governments like Viktor Orban’s in Hungary are blocking progress in this area.
“The UK should use our influence in the EU to ensure LGBT rights are respected across our neighbourhood.”
A statement from Hungary’s right-wing government said: “Hungary is not in the position to agree with the list of actions to advance LGBTI equality.”
The agreement had called on the European Commission and member states “to take further action to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and to conduct awareness-raising to advance LGBTI equality”.
However, it added that it was important to “fully respect the Member States’ national identities and constitutional traditions as well as the competence of the Member States in the field of family law… [while] paying attention to the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons.”