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EU begins legal action against Hungary over anti-LGBTQ law

The EU has also criticsed Poland for a "lack of co-operation" on getting more information on "LGBT free zones".

2021-07-15

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

A month after Hungary passed legislation prohibiting LGBTQ content from being shown to people under-18, the European Union is beginning legal action against it.

The law was first introduced by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, led by Viktor Orbán, who has defended the law as being about how sexuality is taught to children.

EU leaders have condemned the legislation previously, but this is the first time direct action has been taken over the discriminatory law.

“Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised”

In a statement, EU politicians say they are going to start two processes beginning with a formal letter and giving Hungary a two-month deadline to respond.

The EU is arguing that the law goes against freedom of expression and information, as well as freedom to provide services and movement of goods. The EU is also arguing that recent action in Hungary forcing the publisher of a children’s book to add a disclaimer that it depicts "behaviour deviating from traditional gender roles”, goes against Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The EU is also writing to Poland regarding a “lack of co-operation” on a request for more information about “LGBT-ideology free zones”, and whether these are also discriminatory.

In the statement, European Parliament President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised: be it because of whom they love, because of their age, their ethnicity, their political opinions, or their religious beliefs.”

CNN’s Luke McGee has also said he’s already spoken to officials in Poland who have reportedly told him "There are no 'LGBT-free zones' in Poland. Surely, we will answer for any EC's doubts."

The Hungarian law saw an existing law updated to protect children from paedophilia, but amendments were added regarding LGBTQ content to under-18s. The law is similar to Russia’s 2013 law "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values", which effectively bans positive representation of LGBTQ life to minors, which itself takes inspiration from the late Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28, active in the UK from 1988-2003.

The country’s President, Viktor Orbán, has rejected pressure from the EU so far to do anything over the law saying they wouldn’t “allow [LGBT+] activists into our children's kindergartens and schools”, and that it wasn’t an issue for “Brussels bureaucrats."

Despite widespread condemnation of the law, Hungary has had some support. At an EU summit the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, backed Hungary, saying he “didn’t think [it] is right” for other EU leaders to comment.

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