A move by Hungary's strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban to further consolidate power through an anti-gay law has drawn the wrath of the European Union, with Greece joining a declaration against the measure.
Greece co-signed the pronouncement signed also by 14 other EU member-states -13 didn't – condemning Hungary for the law which bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s.
“After Hungary’s insufficient explanations at yesterday’s General Affairs Council, Greece co-signs the joint statement of the countries requesting action from the European Commission on the law that is directed against the rights of the LGBTQI community,” Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Greece’s Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, tweeted.
“The clear position we took in yesterday’s council is reflected today in the co-signing of the relevant joint statement,” he added although the EU is essentially powerless to do anything except tweet and send harsh statements.
The declaration states that the Hungarian law violates the right to freedom of expression and is a “flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden also signed the statement that was ignored by Orban.
The European Commission will take action against Hungary over planned new restrictions on LGBT rights, the head of the bloc’s executive said on Wednesday, saying they violated fundamental EU values, reported the Reuters news agency.
Hungary’s Parliament, controlled by Orban's ruling Fidesz party, approved a measure than prohibits the dissemination of material in schools deemed to promote homosexuality or gender change, despite protests and criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties.
“The Hungarian bill is a shame,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels, stressing the EU would not compromise on principles such as human dignity, equality and the respect for human rights although it already has in dealing with Hungary and other states.
“I have instructed my responsible commissioners to write to the Hungarian authorities expressing our legal concerns before the bill enters into force,” without indicating whether it could force the law to be reversed.
Hungary’s President, a former lawmaker from the ruling Fidesz party, is expected soon to sign the bill into law.
Facing an election next year, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has grown increasingly combative on social issues, saying he wants to protect traditional Christian values against what he sees as the excesses of Western liberalism, the report also said.
Von der Leyen said the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) bill clearly contradicted the very values on which the European Union was founded.
“I strongly 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.
“So I will use all the powers of the Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed – whoever you are and wherever you live,” echoing similar tough talk against Hungary that was later walked back.