A group of European Union states have slammed fellow member Hungary over its new anti-LGBT law ahead of a summit where the democratic credentials of Budapest and its nationalist ally Warsaw, will be questioned.
Thirteen EU countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland, all condemned Hungary for the legal changes that ban the "display and promotion of homosexuality" among under-18s, a change that they say violates the bloc's values.
Sweden's EU Affairs minister called the Hungarian law "grotesque," while his Dutch colleague called on Budapest to undo it and Ireland said the bloc's executive should sue Hungary through the top EU court.
Meanwhile, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg authored a joint declaration calling the law a violation the right to freedom of expression and a "flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation."
"Respectful treatment of minorities, including sexual minorities, should be completely beyond question," Michael Roth, the German minister of state for Europe, said on June 22 hours before a meeting with his EU counterparts.
"There should be absolutely no doubt that minorities, sexual minorities too, must be treated respectfully," he added.
Facing an expected tight election race in 2022, Prime Minister Viktor 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 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 June 24-25.
The condemnation of the Hungarian legal change came on the day UEFA rejected a request by local politicians for Munich’s soccer stadium to be lit up in rainbow colors for the upcoming Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.
Munich's city council sought to illuminate the Allianz Arena in the colors during the June 23 match as a signal to promote diversity following the adoption of a new law in Hungary that bans discussions and the dissemination of information in schools deemed by authorities to promote homosexuality and gender change.
"UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organization. Given the political context of this specific request -- a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament -- UEFA must decline this request," European soccer's governing body said in a statement on June 22.
UEFA suggested alternative dates for the gesture during the tournament.
Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter later announced he planned 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.
"I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a sign for cosmopolitanism, tolerance, respect, and solidarity with the people of the LGBTIQ community," Reiter said.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters on June 21 that "mixing politics and sport" was "harmful and dangerous."
Last week, the country’s parliament passed the controversial law that critics have slammed as an attack on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has backed a strongly conservative social agenda.