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Hungary’s controversial LGBT+ laws are against EU values, says Germany

·2 min read
Protesters opposing amendments of the bill in front of the parliament building in Budapest, Hungary (EPA)
Protesters opposing amendments of the bill in front of the parliament building in Budapest, Hungary (EPA)

A law passed by the Hungarian parliament which bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” to people under the age of 18 “clearly violates EU values”, Germany’s Europe minister has said.

Michael Roth said the 27-member bloc was “not primarily a single market or a currency union” but a “community of values”.

“There should be absolutely no doubt that minorities, sexual minorities too, must be treated respectfully,” he said.

The bill pushed through parliament last week by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, has attracted condemnation from across the EU as well as the US.

Critics have warned the law will stigmatise LGBT+ people and prevent young people from having access to information, including educational material. It will also affect the content of adverts and provides an approved list of organisations providing sex education in schools.

They say the legislation is part of a strategy by the ruling nationalists to appeal to their base by turning to anti-LGBT+ rhetoric as the 2022 elections approach.

Ireland’s minister for European affairs, Thomas Byrne, said last week that the 15 June law “does not respect these principles and goes against the fundamental values on which the EU is founded and to which Hungary has subscribed”.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, tweeted that she was “very concerned about the new law in Hungary”.

“We are assessing if it breaches relevant EU legislation,” she said after it passed. “I believe in a Europe which embraces diversity, not one which hides it from our children. No one should be discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The American embassy in Budapest said it was “deeply concerned by anti-LGBTQI+ aspects” of the legislation.

The Hatter Society, a Hungarian LGBT+ rights group, said the bill was “eerily similar to the infamous Russian law from 2013, which became known as the ‘Propaganda Act’”, which suggested homosexuality was alien to life in Russia.

The group said the Hungarian legislation “clearly violates the right to freedom of expression, human dignity and equal treatment” and “endangers the mental health of LGBTQI youth by depriving them of early, preventive education and affirmative support”.

Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz, has portrayed the law as an effort to fight paedophilia.

Tens of thousands of people were said to have protested against the bill in front of the Hungarian parliament the day before it was passed.

A major broadcaster in Hungary has warned that the law will affect its ability to air films including the Harry Potter franchise, Billy Elliott and Bridget Jones' Diary, as well as TV sitcom Friends and Modern Family.

TV company RTL Klub expressed concern the bill “gravely harms freedom of expression, human rights and basic freedoms”.

LGBT+ people in Hungary already faced discriminatory measures including a ban on gay marriage and limits on adoption.

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