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Hungary to face full force of the law over cruel anti-LGBT+ attacks, European Union warns

Emma Powys Maurice July 7, 2021
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Hungary Viktor Orban

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban pictured in Budapest in December 2020. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty)

In a rare move, the European Parliament is considering a motion to “invite” countries to sue Hungary over its controversial anti-LGBT+ “propaganda” law.

The law, which bans any discussion of LGBT+ people in schools, advertising and in the media, was condemned “in the strongest possible terms” by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

In a debate in Strasbourg on Wednesday (7 July), the day before Hungary’s ban comes into effect, MEPs considered the critical threat to democracy and fundamental rights it poses.

“Homosexuality is equated with pornography. This legislation uses the protection of children… to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation,” von der Leyen said. “It is a disgrace.”

Referring to the discussion of the law at the June EU summit, von der Leyen said that “no issue was as important as the one that impinges on our values and our identity,” explaining that it went against the protection of minorities and respect for human rights.

The parliament’s draft resolution against Hungary states that “the conflation of sexual orientation and gender identity with paedophilia or attacks on children’s rights, displays a clear attempt to instrumentalise human rights language in order to enact discriminatory policies”.

It adds that it considers the country’s anti-LGBT+ law “to be contrary to international human rights principles and norms”.

The motion will go to vote on Thursday (8 July), the day LGBT+ representation becomes a criminal act in Hungary. The vote itself is expected to be a formality as the parliament’s big centre-left, liberal, conservative and green groups all back the measure.

However, a minority of MEPs defended the legal changes in Hungary and demanded respect for decisions taken by national authorities.

The European Commission is already investigating whether the law discriminates against LGBT+ people, while the 47-nation Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based human rights body, has strongly urged Hungary to withdraw it.

Von der Leyen warned that Hungary would face the full force of EU law if it did not back down, although she did not give details.

The motion to sue Budapest has added to growing calls for financial sanctions against the Hungarian prime minister, who is increasingly distancing himself from the values the EU holds dear.

MEPs who work on the European parliament’s budgetary control committee are urging on von der Leyen to use a newly created EU law to freeze payments to Hungary, citing “grave breaches of the rule of law”.

They base their case on a report by three academics, who conclude that the law breaches mean the EU executive is legally justified in suspending payments to Hungary to protect EU taxpayers.

The measure could be potentially devastating to Orbán, whose developing country received €6.3bn from the EU in 2018 – equivalent to nearly five per cent of its total economy.

Related topics: EU, European Parliament, Hungary, Ursula von der Leyen

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