EU tells Hungary to reverse its controversial LGBT laws or face punishment

Hungary has for years defied the EU with authoritarian laws that critics say have undermined free speech and threatened the independence of the country’s judiciary.

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A European Union chief has told Hungry to overturn its controversial LGBTQ+ law while Brussels is said to be considered legal action against the country.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned Hungry to reverse course on its anti-LGBTQ+ policy after pressure mounted on Brussels to cut EU funding to Budapest.

But a spokesman for Hungary’s Government insisted they would still press on in spite of the Commission’s ‘unprecedented’ interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive, said: ‘It is a disgrace this legislation… It is something that flies in the face of the values of the European Union.’

Brussels is also believed to be considering legal action against the EU member state and may also link the payment of post-Covid recovery funds to the law’s repeal.

The new law is ostensibly designed to crack down on paedophilia, but critics say the law dangerously conflates paedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatises support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The law prohibits sharing any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment to children under-18 in school sex education programs, films and advertisements.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insists the measure is to protect children but has received growing international protest over the law, which is due to take effect on Thursday.

The European Commision is understood to be planning an infringement proceeding, which amounts to a lawsuit over failure to implement EU law that can lead to fines inflicted by the bloc’s top court.

‘If Hungary does not rectify the situation, the commission will use its powers available as the guardian of the treaties,’ von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

MEPs have called for the commission to go further, saying they want it to use its new powers to withhold Covid pandemic recovery cash when violations of EU values are proven.

But Hungarian cabinet chief Gergely Gulyas has shot back and denounced what he claimed was an ‘unprecedented campaign’ by Brussels to meddle in the country’s affairs.

‘No matter that Brussels wants to let LGBTQ activists into kindergartens and schools, we refuse to do so,’ Gulyas told a press briefing in Budapest.

Hungary has for years defied the EU with authoritarian laws that critics say have undermined free speech and threatened the independence of the country’s judiciary.

The European Commission has launched several legal procedures against Budapest, including a threat to strip it of EU voting rights, but those moves were blocked by Poland and Hungary.

The latest dispute is over an Anti-Paedophilia Act that was originally billed as toughening punishments for child abuse.

But its final draft contained amendments including a ban on the ‘display or promotion’ of homosexuality to under-18s, and restrictions on sex education and media content.

‘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,’ said von der Leyen.