SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 3 August 2021, Tuesday |

EU to take steps against Hungary over anti-LGBT bill

The European Commission will take action against Hungary over planned new limits on LGBT rights, according to the president of the bloc’s executive, who warned they would breach basic EU values.

Despite protests and criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties, Hungary’s parliament enacted a bill last week that prohibits the distribution of material in schools that promotes homosexuality or gender change.

“The Hungarian bill is a disgrace,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels, emphasizing that the EU would not compromise on human dignity, equality, or respect for human rights.

“Before the bill takes effect, I have directed my relevant commissioners to write to the Hungarian authorities stating our legal concerns.”

The bill is anticipated to be signed into law soon by Hungary’s president, a former legislator from the ruling Fidesz party.

Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Ireland, and other European nations denounced Hungary’s draft law on Tuesday. It was described as “grotesque” by a Swedish minister.

With an election coming up next year, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has become more confrontational on social matters, claiming that he wants to safeguard traditional Christian values against what he perceives as Western liberalism’s excesses.

EMBRACING DIVERSITY

Von der Leyen said the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) bill clearly contradicted the very values on which the European Union was founded.

“Istrongly believe in a European Union where you are free to love whom you want. And I believe in a European Union that embraces diversity, this is the foundation of our values,” she told a news conference in remarks greeted by applause.

“As a result, I will use all of the Commission’s authorities to ensure that all EU citizens’ rights are protected, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

Hungary has long been accused by the EU of weakening the rule of law, and a formal legal probe of Orban’s administration has been initiated.

Orban’s detractors claim that throughout his ten years in office, he has utilized public funding, especially EU funds, to construct a loyal business elite while curtailing the freedom of the media, non-governmental groups, and universities. Orban, who controls a huge parliamentary majority, claims that he is not harming Hungarian democracy.