Words: Alastair James; picture: Gitanas Nausėda, president of Lithuania (Wiki)
The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, has backed Hungary after it was criticised by other EU members for introducing new anti-LGBTQ legislation this month.
As reported by the public broadcaster Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT), Nausėda said he didn’t "think [it] is right" for EU colleagues to comment on the law without “even having familiarised themselves with the text”.
The law prevents LGBTQ content from being shown to under 18s. Proposed by the ultra-conservative and ruling Fidesz party, it amends an existing law punishing paedophilia.
"The long-term aim is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue"
Speaking today (25 June) during a two-day EU Council summit in Brussels, Nausėda said: “We should look at what Hungary is seeking to do, what it has done and only then take on the role of a judge. It was really premature to do that today."
As per the BBC, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said Hungary has “no business being in the European Union” after introducing the law last week.
Rutte added that Hungary's “long-term aim is to bring [the country] to its knees on this issue”.
Ahead of the summit, 17 EU leaders signed a letter promising to “continue fighting against discrimination of the LGBTI community, reaffirming our defence of their fundamental rights" in response to the discriminatory law.
According to LRT, Nausėda refused to sign the letter, but the Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arnoldas Pranckevicius did. Leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel are among those to condemn the law.
The law in question 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 arguably takes inspiration from the late Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28, active in the UK from 1988-2003.
"It's a pink-wash"
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addressed the law at the summit, saying (as per The Guardian): “I am defending the rights of the homosexual guys, but this law is not about that. The law is about to decide what kind of way parents would like to sexually educate the kids.”
The law is the latest action by the Hungarian government to curtail LGBTQ rights and liberties in the central European country. Last December, a law banning same-sex couples from adopting was passed, and in January, publishers were ordered to put disclaimers on books carrying LGBTQ content and "behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles".
This week, European football’s governing body UEFA received backlash after it blocked a request to light up Munich's Allianz Arena in rainbow colours as a protest during the Germany-Hungary EURO match on Wednesday (23 June).
UEFA, whose Twitter logo is currently emblazoned with a rainbow, said the rainbow was “not a political symbol” and that it was a "politically and religiously neutral organisation". A footballer named Christoph - who plays for Munich’s gay football team Street Boys Munich - told the BBC: "It's a pink-wash."
Fans waved rainbow flags during the match, with one spectator in a German shirt and flying a Pride flag running onto the pitch before kick-off.
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