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A protestor holding a rainbow flag during last night's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.
A protestor holding a rainbow flag during last night's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.
Image: Matthias Hangst

Hungary's Viktor Orban digs in over anti-LGBTQ law as leaders heap pressure at EU summit

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that Hungary should not be in EU because of the new law.
Jun 24th 2021, 12:22 PM 40,414 139

Updated Jun 24th 2021, 4:51 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ law threatens EU “fundamental rights” and the “pressure” needs to be put on the member state. 

Ahead of an EU Council meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow, the leaders of 16 EU countries, including Martin, signed a letter defending the rights of LGBTQ people.

Another of the signatories, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said that Hungary should not be in EU because of the new law. 

“For me, Hungary has no place in the EU anymore,” Rutte told journalists ahead of the summit. 

“But I’m not the only one to decide this: there are 26 other (EU countries). This has to be done step by step,” he added.  

The focus on gender and sexuality freedoms in Europe comes after the Hungarian parliament passed a law which bans LGBTQ references in school educational materials. 

Hungary, an EU member state, is led right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban whose authoritarian politics have become increasingly at odds with the EU’s stated values. 

Orban defended the law as he arrived at the EU summit, which is increasingly dominated by growing controversy over the issue.

“This is not against homosexuality, any sexual interference. It’s not about homosexuals,” Orban said. 

“It’s about the right of the kids and the parents,” he said, adding that he would not withdraw the legislation despite the public criticism by most of his EU counterparts.

belgium-eu-summit Orban arriving at the Brussels summit. Source: PA Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Orban’s anti-LGBTQ law “wrong” while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen branded the legislation “a shame”.

Without directly mentioning Hungary, today’s letter signed by the heads of state ahead of an EU summit deplored the “threats against fundamental rights, and in particular the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation”.

Speaking in Brussels this morning the Taoiseach said there has to be “strong moral pressure from the rest of Europe on what has transpired” in Hungary.

He said that “it is not just about sending a signal but sending a very clear message” about European values.

In addition to that, every avenue has to be explored in terms of the legal framework in Europe to pursue this issue. Moral pressure does matter but also asserting European values matters on an issue so fundamental as this.

He added that there are “fundamental rights” around diversity that are celebrated in Ireland and that this is important that these are “asserted and articulated strongly and that Hungry hears that”. 

PastedImage-9888 Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving at today/s EU Council. Source: europa.eu

The issue was brought to wider public consciousness in the past week as part of the Euro 2020 football tournament.

Anti-LGBTQ banners were seen during a match in the Hungarian capital Budapest and ahead of Germany’s match with Hungary last night UEFA refused a request by illuminate Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours. 

Uefa defended its decision, saying that the request from Munich mayor Dieter Reiter was rejected because it was politically motivated. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told the Dáil today that UEFA “showed cowardice” by not agreeing to a request. He said the issue is not about politics but “human rights”. 

“That’s why I agree with Deputy Griffin that UEFA showed cowardice on this issue in my view. UEFA have done great work in terms of trying to stamp out racism in football, as indeed of many other sporting organisations and this natural extension of that,” he said. 

To also be vocal around the need to protect and respect diversity and minorities in the context of people’s sexual preferences in the LGBTQI+ community. 

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The controversy will likely be raised during a summit working dinner in Brussels later today

The signatories are the leaders of the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who sometime aligns with Orban on social issues, was missing, but his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel said on Twitter that Kurz “also joined us this morning with his signature”.

- With reporting by Christina Finn and © – AFP 2021

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