Pressure mounts on the European Commission to take action over Hungary’s anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation

By Hannah Davenport

THERE ARE growing calls for the European Commission to take action against the latest in a string of discriminatory legislation introduced by Hungary’s ruling party Fidesz over the past year.

Last week, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government passed a ban on the “portrayal and the promotion of gender identity different from sex at birth, the change of sex and homosexuality” for persons under 18.

The legislation is said to have breached numerous EU laws, including the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, as well as being a violation of EU principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Campaigners have argued the European Commission has not taken swift and decisive action and have threatened to take the Commission to court if they fail to defend the rights of the European LGBTQIA+ community. 

Rémy Bonny, campaigner and executive director of the LGBTQIA+ organisation Forbidden Colours told Redaction Report: “The EU Commission is the guardian of the treaties, so they have to take action against Hungary when they violate EU law.

“If they do not, we will ask the European Parliament to use article 265, to sue the European Commission for not doing their job.” 

A total of 13 European Union Member States made a joint declaration yesterday condeming the Hungarian legislation.

According to Bonny, the Belgium Prime Minister will do the same at a meeting today with President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. 

But Bonny added EU member states must also step up and impose sanctions against Hungary. 

He said: “Infringement is a solution but it takes way too long and we cannot wait any longer. That’s why we need the member states individually to take action through commercial interests and sanctions.”

He stressed this represented a war against democracy and that the legislation, which has been compared to anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law passed in Russia in 2013, is set out to make members of the LGBTQIA+ community second-class citizens. 

Executive Director of the LGBTQIA+ advocacy group ILGA-Europe, Evelyne Paradis said: “The European Commission can no longer turn a blind eye to the ongoing legislative attacks launched by FIDESZ against the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTI people in Hungary, but needs to use all instruments available to hold Hungary accountable for the respect of fundamental rights, including LGBTI rights.

“LGBTI people across the EU are still waiting for the Commission to take a clear stand towards Member States and use all tools available: negotiations, infringement procedures, the rule of law reports, ongoing Article 7 procedures, as well as funding instruments, to ensure that the Hungarian government stops the ongoing violation of LGBTI human rights in its country.”

The European Commission announced it would be “assessing” the new law and looking into its breaches of EU legislation. 

A campaign urging the European Union to step up immediately and force the Hungarian government to retract the law has received more than 20,000 signatures in the past week. 

Terry Reintke MEP (Greens-EFA), Co-Chair of the European Union monitoring forum LGBTI Intergroup, said in a statement: “In the letter we addressed to the Commission on the sanctioning of the RTL media group, we asked whether infringement procedures would be initiated. The response was but another fragile lid on a boiling pot. Will the Commission take charge now?”

The LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 was set out last November by the Commission as the first-ever strategy on LGBTIQ equality in the EU, in an effort to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights. 

The strategy was launched in light of findings by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics was actually increasing in the EU.

43 per cent of LGBTQIA+ people declared that they felt discriminated against in 2019, as compared to 37 per cent in 2012.

A petition calling for the Allianz Arena to light up in rainbow colours for the UEFA match today in solidarity with Hungary became one of the top signed on

The European Commission was contacted for comment. 

Featured Image: Pixabay

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