Hungary - EU

EU to start legal action against Hungary's anti-LGBT law

Activists put up a rainbow balloon in front of Hungary's parliament on 8 July to protest against the anti-paedophilia law that they say is discriminatory against LGBT people. Brussels is starting legal action against Hungary to push it to repeal the legislation.
Activists put up a rainbow balloon in front of Hungary's parliament on 8 July to protest against the anti-paedophilia law that they say is discriminatory against LGBT people. Brussels is starting legal action against Hungary to push it to repeal the legislation. © Marton Mounus/Reuters

The European Commission is preparing a formal legal procedure against Hungary, in response to a law that came into force last week that it considers to be discriminatory towards LGBT people and in violation of core European principles.

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Separately, the Commission has delayed approving Hungary's Covid economic recovery plan, over corruption and transparency concerns.

The European executive is preparing to send a warning letter to the government of the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, on Wednesday.

It will be the first step in an infraction procedure against Hungary for violating European law.

The procedure, which would start formally on Thursday, could lead to a case before the European Court of Justice, with potential financial penalties for Hungary.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last week warned that the EU would use "all powers available" to push for a repeal or modification of Hungary’s law banning schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality.

Orban's government says the so-called anti-paedophilia law is about protecting children, and that it should be up to parents to educate their children about sexuality.

Opponents say that the legislation conflates paedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatises the LGBTQ community.

The law came into effect last Thursday. Orban has vowed not to give into pressure from the EU, arguing that this is a case of national sovereignty.

"The European Parliament and the European Commission want that we let LGBTQ activists and organisations into the kindergartens and schools. Hungary does not want that," Orban said on his official Facebook page. "Here Brussels bureaucrats have no business at all.”

Hungary’s Covid recovery not approved

Separately, the Commission is holding off on approving Hungary’s 7.2 billion euro Covid recovery plan.

On Tuesday the Commission signed off on 12 member states’ plans, allowing them to start receiving the first instalment of their share of the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery.

The Commission did not give details on what prevented it from approving Hungary’s plan, though discussions have included questions over the country's commitment to fighting corruption, and to ensuring both transparency and the independence of the courts.

Paolo Gentiloni, the Economics Affairs Commissioner, said he hoped that a solution would be found in a matter of weeks. He added it would be up to Hungary to meet EU demands.

He told reporters on Monday that discussion over the recovery money did not specifically involve the LGBTQ law, even though the commission disapproved the Hungarian measure.

The first instalments will be delivered at the end of the month, with Italy and Spain as the main beneficiaries, receiving almost 70 billion euros in subsidies over the next five years.

France will receive 5.1 billion of its 40-billion euro plan.

Future sums will depend on whether governments deliver on commitments on a number of issues, including reforms and investment on a green transition and job creation.

(with wires)

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