Hungary hits back at the EU over 'discriminatory' LGBT law

8 July 2021, 09:25 | Updated: 8 July 2021, 09:45

Viktor Orban insists the law is not discriminatory
Viktor Orban insists the law is not discriminatory. Picture: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

By Will Taylor

Hungary has hit back at the European Union over the country's controversial law to ban schools using materials that are classed as promoting homosexuality.

Lawmakers in the bloc consider it discriminatory against LGBT people and are due to vote on a resolution condemning it today.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the legislation equated homosexuality with "pornography" and was a "disgrace".

The Commission can open a legal case against Hungary at the European Court of Justice or freeze funds using a mechanism designed for countries that undermine democratic standards, Reuters reported.

Read more: Hungary bans same-sex adoption with constitution change

Read more: Former EU chief Donald Tusk elected leader of Polish opposition party

The agency said Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban claimed the law is meant to protect children and denied that it discriminates against LGBT people.

And on Wednesday, his chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said: "Brussels' efforts to have us allow LGBTQ activists into schools and nursery schools are in vain, we are not willing to do that."

The law, which was passed in June, is due to take effect from Thursday.

It bans showing minors content in media or school programmes that "depicts or promotes homosexuality".

The Government has argued it allows parents control over their children's sexual education.

A protest is due to be held in Budapest opposition to the law on Thursday.

The five largest groups in the European Parliament voiced their support for a joint resolution condemning the legislation, which will be voted on during Thursday's session, and urged the Commission to act.

Read more: What is the EU Digital Covid Certificate and can I get one?

President von der Leyen told members of the European Parliament: "Homosexuality is equated with pornography.

“This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. It is a disgrace."

The condemnation comes as Hungarian authorities fined the distributor of a children’s book about a family with same-sex parents.

A person with a rainbow flag demonstrated when the Hungary national team played at Euro 2020
A person with a rainbow flag demonstrated when the Hungary national team played at Euro 2020. Picture: Alamy

They used a law banning unfair commercial practices to stop a Hungarian translation of US author Lawrence Schimel's about the daily routines of two children, both of whom have same-sex parents.

An official at Pest county, which is responsible for area surrounding the capital Budapest, said the Foundation for Rainbow Families failed to clearly show the book contained “content which deviates from the norm".

"The book was there among other fairytale books and thus committed a violation," Pest county commissioner Richard Tarnai said.

"There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family."

The Foundation for Rainbow Families, which was fined just over £600, said in a Facebook post that "rainbow families are perfectly normal, ordinary families".

"The storybook is about simple, everyday events, and the sexuality of the parents is not even a theme."