The European Commission has officially started its legal action against Hungary for its recently adopted law, which has been criticised for being anti-LGBTQ+.
The Commission argued that the law is in contradiction with the core values of the EU – equality and the respect for dignity and human rights – and that it will use “all the instruments at its disposal to defend these values,” according to a press release published on Thursday.
“The recently adopted law prohibits or limits access to content that promotes or portrays the so-called ‘divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change or homosexuality’ for individuals under 18,” it added.
Hungary passed the law, which in essence states that no references can be made to LGBTQ+ people in places where minors are present, on 23 June and it has since been criticised by several EU leaders and various member states for violating the right to freedom of expression under the guise of protecting children.
At the start of this year, a publisher of a children’s book presenting LGBTQ+ people was forced to include a disclaimer that the book depicts forms of “behaviour deviating from traditional gender roles” by the country’s authorities.
“The protection of minors is a legitimate public interest which the EU shares and pursues. However, in this case, Hungary has failed to explain why the exposure of children to LGBTQ+ content as such would be detrimental to their well-being or not in line with the best interests of the child,” the Commission statement read.
Three weeks ago, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Hungarian bill was “a shame”, and that she had instructed the responsible commissioners to write a letter to the Hungarian authorities expressing the EU’s legal concerns, which has now been confirmed happened.
She added that the Commission would ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed, whoever they are and wherever they live.
The Commission is also launching infringement procedures against Poland related to equality and the protection of fundamental rights, arguing that the authorities failed to appropriately respond to the inquiry regarding the impact of the so-called ‘LGBT-ideology free zones’ resolutions adopted by several Polish regions and municipalities.
Both countries now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. If failing to do so, the Commission could decide to eventually refer them to the European Court of Justice.