European Union and Hungary Engaged in a Standoff

July 15, 2021

During a visit to Belgrade on July 8, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted that the spirit of his law, criticized by many European Union (EU) countries, specifies that parents have the right to decide their children's education. 

Viktor Orban was not intimidated by the attacks on Hungarian sovereignty that were triggered in the EU by the law to protect children, which prohibits minors from accessing homosexual and transgender propaganda, including in schools.

“The European Parliament and the European Commission want LGBT activists to have free access to our schools and kindergartens, but that will not happen because that is not what Hungary wants,” said the Hungarian Prime Minister.

He then added: "Whatever they do, we will not allow LGBT propaganda in our schools," in a direct message to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who threatened Orban with cutting European funds for  economic reconstruction if he did not withdraw the law, which she described as “shameful.”

In an exchange between the 27 heads of state on June 24, Viktor Orban came under heavy criticism. The first salvo was fired by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, who said: “Homosexuality is not a choice, you are born like that.” 

“Being homosexual is not a choice, being homophobic is,” added Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. As for the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, he suggested that the Hungarian head of government activate Article 50 of the treaty and leave the EU.

Emmanuel Macron was content with a pathetic: “You were a liberal, Viktor. What happened?" Then repeating several times like a litany: “Nothing is more important than human dignity.”

The Swedish Prime Minister was threatening: “Swedish taxpayers will not give you money if you do not respect our values,” said Stefan Löfven.

Finally, David Sassoli, President of Parliament, called on the Commission “not to refrain” from invoking the conditionality mechanism regarding the payment of European funds with respect to the rule of law, adopted last summer.

However, as the Hungarian LGBT law has no influence on the EU budget, the device in question cannot be applied, as several diplomats have pointed out.

On July 8, MEPs called on the European Commission to launch fast-track infringement proceedings against Hungary. In a resolution passed by 459 votes in favor, 147 against and 58 abstentions, MEPs say the Hungarian law clearly violates the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Treaties and EU internal market law.

This did not prevent the Hungarian Prime Minister from reaffirming on the same day, against those he calls the “apostles of liberal democracy” that the Hungarian government was ready to defend this law by all legal means. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia have closed ranks with Hungary.