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European leaders confront Hungarian PM over new anti-LGBTQ law: Repeal it or leave the EU

2018-07-05: Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, answers questions at the press conference at the federal chancellery in Berlin
Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, answers questions at the press conference at the federal chancellery in Berlin, 05 July 2018Photo: photocosmos1 / Shutterstock.com

Leaders of European Union (EU) member nations confronted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán over his country’s recently passed law banning schools and media from mentioning LGBTQ issues. Several EU leaders have said that Hungary should no longer remain an EU member if it opposes such human rights.

“For me, Hungary has no place in the EU anymore,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. “It was really forceful, a deep feeling that this could not be. It was about our values; this is what we stand for. But, unfortunately, in the system that we have, I can’t do it on my own.”

Related: Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ laws have spilled onto Europe’s soccer fields

Rutte said that he hoped the EU’s 26 other member states would gradually pressure Hungary to either change its laws or leave the EU.

“The long-term aim is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue,” Rutte said.

He made his comments before attending an EU summit in Brussels with Orbán, and he isn’t the only EU leader speaking out against the law.

“I said, ‘Stop this, you must withdraw the law and, if you don’t like that and really say that the European values are not your values, then you must think about whether to remain in the European Union'” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

While wearing a rainbow pin, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said, “[Hungary has] gone too far… It starts with discriminating against LGBT and ends up with silencing people who say what they don’t like.”

Luxembourg’s out gay Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the law has wrongly connected homosexuality with pedophilia. He also said that EU’s highest court could issue Hungary a legal challenge to cut its EU funding for violating the union’s democratic rules.

“I didn’t get up one morning after having seen an advert on the TV of some brand… and say ‘I’m gay.’ That’s not how life works,” Bettel said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Hungary’s law “wrong.” She was one of 17 EU member nation leaders to sign a joint letter affirming the EU’s commitment to supporting gay rights, Reuters reported.

Though the letter didn’t single out Hungary, it followed a joint declaration expressing “deep concern” over the law signed by 17 of the EU’s 27-member nations on Tuesday. Belgium launched the joint declaration to denounce Hungary’s law.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission — the EU’s executive branch — has also said Hungary’s new law “clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

“It goes against all the values, the fundamental values of the European Union, and this is human dignity, it is equality, and is the human fundamental rights,” she said. She previously asked EU commissioners to write Hungary and express concern over its bill before the law takes full effect.

Orbán, however, has continued to defend his bigoted bill. He has previously said that the law will fight pedophilia and the sexual abuse of children.

“I am not against homosexuality,” the conservative Christian politician said. “The law is about to decide what kind of way parents would like to sexually educate their kids, [with that right] exclusively belonging to the parents.”

Hungary’s law has been compared to Russia’s 2013 ban on “homosexual propaganda.” Roughly 157 members of Hungary’s 199-member parliament voted in favor of the bill.

“Like the infamous Russian ‘propaganda law’ this new legislation will further stigmatize LGBTI people and their allies,” said Amnesty International’s Hungary director Dávid Vig. “Tagging these amendments to a bill that seeks to crack down on child abuse appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Hungarian government to conflate pedophilia with LGBTI people.”

Last May, Hungary banned transgender people from updating the gender on their government IDs. Last December, the country amended its constitution to ban adoption by same-sex couples.

In a 2015 interview, Orbán said he was grateful that “the Hungarian homosexual community” hasn’t shown “the provocative behavior against which numerous European nations are struggling.” He said things would get worse for Hungary’s LGBTQ community if it “starts being more provocative.”

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