Orbán calls EU action on LGBT rights ‘legalised hooliganism’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban looks on ahead of a press conference after a meeting with Serbian President Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, 08 July 2021. Orban is on an official visit to Serbia. [EPA-EFE/ANDREJ CUKIC]

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán accused the European Commission on Friday (16 July) of “legalised hooliganism” for launching an infringement action against measures taken by his government that the EU executive said discriminated against LGBT people.

Thursday’s action against Hungary related to a new law that outlaws “promoting or portraying” homosexuality or sex reassignment to minors and limits sexual education in schools, which Orbán has described as a child-protection issue.

Commission goes after Hungary, Poland over LGBTQI+ rights

The European executive launched three proceedings against Hungary and Poland over what it sees as violations of fundamental rights of LGBTIQ+ people on Thursday (15 July), leaving Budapest and Warsaw two months to respond to its concerns.

The legal steps also target the decision of government authorities to force publishers of children’s book including LGBTQI+ and ethnically diverse characters label the fairy tales as content that “exhibit patterns of behaviour other than traditional gender roles.”

Stepping up a war of words with Brussels, Orbán told state radio on Friday: “This (EU infringement action) is legalised hooliganism… The European Commission’s stance is shameful.”

He said the debate offered Hungarians a glimpse into “European life”, into what went on in schools in Germany, reiterating that Hungary would not let LGBT activists “march up and down” in schools promoting what he called sexual propaganda.

“What’s common in Western Europe today, and what they want to make common here, is to let sexual propagandists into schools and have them work with children,” Orbán told the radio listeners.

“This is common in the West but not in Hungary. There have been a few cases, and the number of such cases has begun to rise, so it was high time to clear the air,” he added.

Rights groups have rallied against the legislation which European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has called a disgrace.

The infringement action has also targeted Poland, after some municipalities there declared themselves “LGBT ideology-free zones”.

It marks the latest in a series of clashes between Brussels and some of the EU’s newer eastern European members over a range of core issues also including the rule of law, migration and press freedoms.

Orbán, a nationalist who has repeatedly crossed swords with Brussels since he took office in 2010, said EU authorities were trying to impose their will on Hungary over how children should be raised.

The anti-LGBT campaign, which his government has stepped up over the past year, looks likely to feature prominently on his political platform ahead of a potentially tough national election next year.

In the past two weeks, huge blue billboards have been erected nationwide bearing slogan such as: “Have you been annoyed with Brussels?” and “Are you afraid your children will face sexual propaganda?”

Orbán on Friday also predicted another clash over EU recovery funds, which have been withheld by Brussels but which he said Hungary would eventually get.

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