The new law banning LGBTQ content in schools “not against homosexuality,” says the populist leader at the EU summit.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has strongly defended a new law in his country banning LGBTQ content in schools when he arrived at a European Union summit in Brussels dominated by growing controversy over the issue.
“This is not against homosexuality, any sexual interference. It’s not about homosexuals,” Orban said.
“This is the right of children and parents,” he said, adding that he would not withdraw the legislation despite the fierce public criticism that most of his EU counterparts made about it.
Leaders from 17 EU countries signed a letter on Thursday that, while not directly mentioning Hungary, deplored “threats to fundamental rights and, in particular, the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.”
It came after a more explicit joint statement earlier this week by the same countries, including the heavyweights of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which raised “serious concerns” about Hungarian law.
The issue came to the forefront of EU policy this week when UEFA, the governing body of European football, on Wednesday rejected Munich’s plan to light up its stadium in rainbow colors. Martí for a Germany-Hungary match.
An EU official said the growing debate over Hungarian law had become “quite important” and would likely be chewed up during a working dinner.
“Fundamental value of the EU”
Some EU leaders following Orban down the red carpet to the summit hall were openly scathing about the legislation.
“The Hungarian authorities are violating a fundamental value of the European Union in terms of the measures it is taking,” said Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.
“This evening we will articulate very strongly our opinion on this.”
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said he would tell Orban that “his comments and the laws he has adopted are unacceptable.”
French President Emmanuel Macron was more measured and said he was “always suspicious” of demanding that another EU country withdraw the legislation.
“But I will defend our values and say that the law … does not seem to me in line with our values,” he said, adding that he hopes the “dialogue” with Orban will lead to a change in the law.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had previously called Hungarian law “wrong”, made no mention of it when she arrived and gave a summary of the summit’s “complete agenda”.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the legislation “clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation” and said its executive would challenge its legal basis.
Orban, however, repulsed the attack and accused EU leaders of not reading the text of the law.
He said that if it were raised, he would tell them that “it’s about how a child learns about sexuality, which is, in any case, a difficult and complicated question, and the decisions about it are exclusively parents.”