Budapest, Hungary – Hungary has no place in the EU anymore with its new law on homosexuality, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said amid growing tensions over the Hungarian government’s policies on LGBT and gay rights.
“Bring Hungary to its knees”, says Dutch PM Rutte amid growing tensions
“Hungary has no business being in the European Union anymore”, the Dutch Premier said following an EU summit where a majority of European leaders voiced strong criticism of the country’s recent “anti-LGBT legislation”.
“The long-term aim is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue”, M. Rutte added.
His comments comes amid growing frustration over what critics describe as the latest example of a decade-long campaign of the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban against sexual minorities and its attempt to silence Hungary’s LGBT community.
Political pundits have described last week’s European summit as unusually tense and emotional in what some saw as a turning-point in the notoriously stormy relations between Hungary and the EU.
“We have known each other for eight years, but this touches me,” Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel – who is openly gay – said in a rare personal appeal to Orban. “You see how many young LGBTI commit suicide. This is very bad. This is stigmatizing […] You make people a minority. This is really terrible in a European country.”
Why is Hungary’s “anti-LGBT law” controversial?
Passed earlier this month by the Hungarian Parliament and signed into law by President Janos Ader, Hungary’s controversial bill was initially designed to combat pedophilia and strengthen the punishment for convicted pedophiles.
An amendment was later added banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexual content to minors and only allow government-approved people to teach sexual education in Hungarian schools.
The legislation prompted large demonstrations in Budapest and was met with immediate public outcry, with critics accusing the Hungarian government of likening homosexuality to pedophilia and of severely restricting young people’s ability to learn about issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Hungarian government has dismissed the accusations, saying the law had been misunderstood and was primarily meant to protect the rights of parents to educate their children as they see fit when it comes to sexual matters.
“I am defending the rights of homosexual guys, but this law is not about that. It’s about the rights of the kids and the parents,” PM Orban said.
LGBT rights: How did EU leaders react to Hungary’s new law?
Ahead of last week’s summit, a group of 13 EU member states issued a joint statement expressing “grave concern” about the new Hungarian law.
Without explicitly mentioning Hungary, 17 EU leaders later signed another public letter vowing to “continue fighting against discrimination of the LGBTI community, reaffirming our defence of their fundamental rights.”
From German Chancellor Angela Merkel to French President Emmanuel Macron and head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, a host of EU leaders expressed their opposition to the legislation and warned Hungary legal steps could be taken if it continued to restrict the rights of LGBT people.
Poland was one of the few countries not to sign the joint statement or the open letter. Andrzej Przylebski, Poland’s ambassador in Berlin, said it was “evident and beyond doubt” that the Hungarian government had the right to decide not to expose minors and schoolchildren to issues like homosexuality.
Other countries, including V4 ally Slovakia, did not express a clear position on the matter.