On Tuesday, the Hungarian parliament voted through new rules that would ban the teaching of LGBTIQ education and literature, advertisements and other materials, deemed by the government to be promoting LGBTIQ rights, under the guise of ‘protecting children.’
The ruling Fidesz party proposals echo similar legislation in Russia, aimed at singling out the LGBTIQ community. The General Affairs Council is due to discuss the ongoing Article 7 procedure for Hungary on June 22.
The European Commission says it has also launched a fresh inquiry into whether the new Hungarian legislation is in line with EU law.
EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli tweeted that “everyone must be free and welcome to be themselves without limitation and the Commission is duty bound to protect this principle.”
On Thursday, at a news conference on the current situation in Hungary, Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield expressed frustration at the Commission’s perceived failure to act against Hungary by implementing the rule of law mechanism, which links EU funds to respect for democracy and the rule of law.
The French deputy told reporters, “The Commission should be using this new tool but it’s only by pressure that the Commission will actually act. There is no point at looking a hammer on a table and not knowing how to use it. At some point you have to use the hammer.”
“The EU now needs to use the hammer against Hungary but that is the step that the Commission doesn’t seem to want to take. This is a big concern - that nothing will change.”
She voiced “doubts” about the intention of the incoming Slovenian EU presidency to act against Hungary, saying, “I do not have much hope but hope that the French presidency [which starts on 1 January] will fulfil its duties.”
“Once again, Fidesz is using censorship to stigmatise and scapegoat LGBTIQ people. Attacking freedom of speech, the right to education and media freedom is an affront to European values and has no place in the 21st century” Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Greens/EFA
She told the online briefing, “I am not confident that the Commission will act. It seems to be afraid of taking the risk of losing a legal case and just says it has a risk problem. But basically it is just too timid to do anything.”
When asked about the stated aim of the G7 summit last week to act against any democratic “backsliding” by Member States, Delbos-Corfield asked, “what do they mean by this?”
“No Member State is perfect - Poland is another example - but there is nothing to compare with Hungary.”
She said that this week’s new law highlighted the “urgency” to act against Hungary, adding, “We have seen an intensification of attacks on the LGBTIQ community - which has become the new scapegoat, the new enemy - and is being targeted in Hungary.”
“For a long time it was the migrants and liberal political parties, but we can see clearly that the LGBTIQ community, since the start of the crisis, has become the enemy.”
On Tuesday, Delbos-Corfield along with fellow Greens/EFA members Terry Reintke, Kim van Sparrentak and others attended a protest against the new Hungarian law at Place du Luxembourg in Brussels.
Delbos-Corfield said, “I must admit I am not surprised by this new law. Given what’s happened it was to be expected. But let’s be clear, this is nothing to doing with being in the interests of children.”
She said, “Once again, Fidesz is using censorship to stigmatise and scapegoat LGBTIQ people. Attacking freedom of speech, the right to education and media freedom is an affront to European values and has no place in the 21st century.”
“Using child protection as excuse to target LGBTIQ people is damaging to all children in Hungary … Children need real protection from abuse with efficient public policies and not to be instrumentalised for other purposes”
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Greens/EFA
“Using child protection as excuse to target LGBTIQ people is damaging to all children in Hungary. Children and young people need to be able to access health information and diverse media content to be able to develop informed opinions. Children need real protection from abuse with efficient public policies and not to be instrumentalised for other purposes.”
“The Hungarian government must scrap this assault on fundamental rights. Any attempt to use child protection as an excuse to attack LGBTIQ rights should be addressed by other Member States during the upcoming Article 7 hearings later this month.”
“It is clear this [rule of law mechanism] should be the next step and I hope the next EU presidencies, after Slovenia, will act. In the longer term, elections in Hungary, could lead to change but that is probably me being too hopeful.”
She went on, “I can tell you that some Member States are discussing acting alone on this and not waiting for the Commission to do something. The Netherlands and others are interested. They are all worried about the situation in Hungary, including the latest developments this week, and feel it may be time for them to act themselves and the possibility of this is being investigated.”
“I think and hope that more action will come from Member States. The EU asks for solidarity when it comes to the rule of law, but this won’t happen if we don’t have clear assurances that EU money will be well used. This [Member State action] could be a way of working more efficiently on this.”
In a tweet, Dutch Greens/EFA member Kim van Sparrentak said the law was a “copy-paste” of similar Russian legislation, adding, “It’s not the first and won’t be the last time that Orbán takes away basic human rights of the LGBTIQ community.”
The S&D group issued a statement which said, “we cannot stay silent and let Orbán attack LGBTIQ people in Hungary like this. Silence is complicity so we must show solidarity with the community.”
Maltese Socialist member Cyrus Engerer also attacked the EU for failing to act, tweeting, “the EU institutions’ inaction goes against the treaties.”
He added, “We demand sanctions by the EU against Hungary for silencing this community with this new law.”
Belgian deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said in a tweet that she was “very concerned” about the law which “further stigmatises people” and “undermines” freedom of expression and non-discrimination.
Luxembourg Socialist member Marc Angel said he was “shocked about Hungary following the Russian example and introducing an anti-LGBTI propaganda law. Shame on Orbán and Fidesz for continuing to scapegoat minorities. My thoughts are with the many progressive, pro-European and pro-democracy Hungarians.”
Further comment came from Dudits Luca, a spokesman for the Hatter Society, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQI NGOs in Hungary, who told this site, “Even though the government is trying to make enemies of LGBTQI people, the past few days have shown that Hungarians do not want to increment hatred. In the next period, we will focus on challenging the infringing and inhumane law by all legal means at home and abroad.”
Victoria Radványi, organiser of Budapest Pride, also told this website, “The most important thing is to tell LGBTQI youth and their families that they are not alone, that crowds are standing up for their rights and against this evil law.”