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EU Threatens Action Against Hungary Over 'Shameful' LGBT Legislation


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Hungary's new law banning the sharing of LGBT content with minors is discriminatory and the EU's executive is considering legal action because it violates the bloc's fundamental values.

"The Hungarian bill is a shame," von der Leyen said on June 23, adding that the proposed legislation "clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation."

"I have instructed my responsible commissioners to write a letter to the Hungarian authorities expressing our legal concerns before the bill enters into force."

The controversial legislation that critics have slammed as an attack on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people has encountered criticism across Europe following its approval by Hungary’s parliament last week.

The proposed legal changes ban the "display and promotion of homosexuality" among under-18s. The ban applies to discussions and the dissemination of information in schools that is deemed by authorities to promote homosexuality and gender change. The ban also applies to advertising by banning ads deemed to target people under 18 years of age if they are seen as showing solidarity with gay people.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said von der Leyen's remarks about the law were "shameful" and based on falsehoods.

"The recently adopted Hungarian bill protects the rights of children, guarantees the rights of parents, and does not apply to the sexual-orientation rights of those over 18 years of age, so it does not contain any discriminatory elements," the conservative leader said in a statement.

During a meeting in Luxembourg on June 22, 13 EU member states condemned Hungary for the legal amendment, with some calling on the European Commission to take Budapest to the bloc's top court.

Facing an expected tight election race next year, Orban has sharpened his conservative bona fides in recent months by protecting what he says are traditional Christian values from Western liberalism to bolster support from his base.

The moves in Hungary, as well as measures in Poland to overhaul its judiciary that have raised questions in Brussels over democratic values, are expected to feature prominently in an EU summit on June 24-25.

The Hungarian bill has also triggered a row in Hungary and Germany over rainbow lights during the Euro 2020 tournament.

UEFA has rejected a request by local politicians for Munich’s soccer stadium to be lit up in rainbow colors for the match between the two countries on June 23 in protest of the Hungarian legislation.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter has announced he plans to put up rainbow-colored flags at the city’s town hall and illuminate a huge wind turbine located close to the Allianz Arena and other locations.

Some German stadiums are also set to be illuminated in rainbow colors during the match.

In response to what he called the "provocative news" in Munich, Gabor Kubatov, who is a deputy head of Orban's ruling Fidesz party and president of Hungary's biggest club Ferencvaros, called on Hungarian clubs to illuminate their stadiums in national colors.

"Let's color all the stadia in red-white-green! Homeland above all!" Kubatov wrote on Facebook.

Other clubs joining the call included MTK in Budapest and DVSC in the eastern city of Debrecen, both of whose management are linked to Fidesz politicians, according to AFP.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP
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