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European Commission takes Hungary to court over LGBTQ law

Hungary’s so-called ‘anti-paedophilia’ law bans the “promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment to under-18s.

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has taken Hungary to EU court over a law banning LGBTQ content to minors and the closure of an independent radio station.

Hungary’s so-called “anti-paedophilia” law, which, among other things, bans the “promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment to under-18s, came into force last year despite many warnings from Brussels and pushback by EU leaders.

“The Commission considers that the law violates the internal market rules, the fundamental rights of individuals (in particular LGBTQ people) as well as … EU values,” a statement said.

The EU Court of Justice can impose fines and financial penalties for non-compliance with its decisions.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has called it a “disgrace” and the EU executive launched the procedure in July 2021.

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Hungary nationalist and conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban assures that the law is not homophobic and aims to “protect the rights of children”.

Maria Walsh, a Fine Gael MEP for Midlands-North-West and vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, welcomed the Commission’s decision to sue Hungary over the legislation which she called “an absolute violation of basic human rights and an unlawful attack on democratic standards”.

“In addition, the attempts to silence the media and attack free speech cannot be tolerated,” she continued.

MEP Walsh addressed crowds at Mullingar’s inaugural Pride Festival this week and highlighted the work the EU is doing to support minority groups. 

“Sadly, hate crime around sexual orientation and identity has become all too common. Earlier this month, Mayo Pride in Westport was also targeted by protestors who behaved abusively towards the event participants, reducing many to tears.

“I stand with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen… and I support the EU executive in withholding billions in aid to Hungary over disputes relating to gay rights, as well as the independence of its media and courts.”

The Commission is also suing Hungary in court over the national regulator’s decision to take independent radio station Klubradio off the air.

This was seen as a further blow to media pluralism in the country and Brussels launched an infringement procedure on this issue in June 2021.

“In the EU, the world’s leading democracy, no free radio station should be taken off the air for non-objective reasons on the basis of a discriminatory administrative procedure,” said EU commissioner Thierry Breton.

Hungary was again singled out in the Commission’s latest report on the rule of law in the EU, presented on Wednesday.

Brussels has also triggered a procedure that could lead to the suspension of EU funds to the country, due to shortfalls by Budapest on fighting corruption.

© AFP 2022

- additional reporting by Susan Daly

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