The European Parliament has denounced a Hungarian law that prohibits homosexuals from appearing in educational materials or on primetime television as “a clear violation” of equality.
In a resolution voted in Strasbourg on Thursday by a resounding majority, MEPs condemned Hungarian law “in the strongest terms” as “a clear violation of EU values, principles and laws”, while urging the Commission European to launch a track down legal case against the government of Viktor Orbán.
The vote follows a barrage of criticism against the law, which activists fear will lead to an increase in physical and verbal attacks against homosexuals in Hungary.
EU leaders surrounded Orbán in an “emotional” debate during last month’s EU summit, while commission chair Ursula von der Leyen called the law a “disgraceful”.
“This law puts homosexuality and gender reassignment on a par with pornography,” von der Leyen told MEPs on Wednesday. “This law uses the protection of children, to which we are all committed, as an excuse to severely discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. This law is shameful. ”He promised to use the powers of the EU executive to protect the rights of citizens and sent a formal letter to the Orbán government.
Although not binding, the resolution adds pressure on von der Leyen to bring Hungary before the European court of law. MEPs consider that Hungarian law violates the rights to non-discrimination and freedom of expression, as well as the EU’s audiovisual media services directive, pan-European standards for television and broadcasting services.
In total, 459 MEPs voted in favor of the resolution, 147 against and 58 abstained.
MEPs also say the Hungarian authorities cannot be trusted to administer EU funds in “a non-discriminatory way” amid growing calls from Brussels to shut down Budapest’s money taps.
The commission is expected to delay approval of a € 7.2 billion coronavirus recovery plan for Hungary, subject to new lawsuits to tackle corruption. The looming July 12 deadline has prompted calls for Brussels to order Hungary to rewrite its plan to address well-documented concerns about politicized courts and weak controls against corruption. But the commission is likely not meeting those demands.
“The current schedule is between 16 [and] July 19, ”said Green German MEP Daniel Freund, a member of the budget control committee. “They will approve the Hungarian plan. If things go well, they manage to write some additional anti-corruption reforms somewhere in the plan, but nothing that addresses something right away. “
“My reading is that the commissions are in a bind,” he added. The recovery fund “was not the ideal mechanism to lead countries to structural reform and rebuild their rule of law and judicial system,” he said, adding that the relatively lengthy reforms are at odds with the urgency of the economic rescue afterwards. of the pandemic. “They are two contradictory things.”
An EU diplomat agreed with this analysis. The commission “will probably only kick the road for another week,” the diplomat said. While the commission was “concerned” about judicial independence in Hungary, officials consider blocking Hungary’s access to EU recovery funds above concerns about the rule of law to be “legally complex and unstable”. the person said.
A spokesperson for the commission declined to confirm or deny reports of a delay: “As the in-depth assessment is ongoing, we will not provide any preliminary assessment.”
Orbán, who faces elections in 2022, launched a nationwide survey last week in which he questioned all households about the economy, migration and the EU through a series of stereotyped questions. Consistent with previous years, the survey and accompanying announcements demonize Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros, linking him to “illegal migration.” A billboard slogan that has caused new outrage among MEPs reads: “Is George Soros on the attack again?” Another question: “Does Brussels make you angry?”
The survey casts the LGBTQ law as a child protection measure, a theme repeated by Orbán in a defiant letter to the EU this week.
Accusing EU leaders of “evok[ing] the colonial instincts of long-lost times ”and making“ disrespectful statements of power, ”the letter mounted a firm defense of the law. “We Central Europeans know what it is like when the state party or the dictatorial system and the monopoly of power that operates, want to raise children instead of their parents. We do not allow it to the communists, so we will not allow these self-proclaimed apostles of liberal democracy to educate children, rather than Hungarian parents. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism