by William Nattrass
Monday, 18
July 2022
Explainer
07:00

EU sues Hungary over anti-LGBT law

Ursula von Der Leyen labelled the legislation a 'disgrace'
by William Nattrass
Credit: Getty

The culture war between Hungary and the EU has ratcheted up, with the European Commission taking Budapest to the bloc’s highest court over a law prohibiting the dissemination of LGBT-positive material in schools and public life. 

Bitter arguments have raged over Hungary’s “Child Protection” law ever since it was introduced by Viktor Orbán’s government last summer. Labelled a “disgrace” by EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, it bans content which “promotes gender reassignment, homosexuality, or portrays sexuality for its own sake” in education or in media accessible to children. 

But the Hungarian government refuses to accept that Brussels has any right to dictate its social policy. Orbán has also insisted that EU abhorrence of Hungarian Christian conservatism is the real reason for the bloc’s ongoing ‘rule of law’ crusade against Budapest, which has seen EU pandemic recovery funds withheld. 

The intractable debate over the Child Protection law has become an archetypal culture war battleground. Hungary stands for traditional conceptions of gender and heterosexuality within strong nuclear families, seen as the fundamental building blocks of a healthy nation state — a perception closely linked to Hungary’s serious problem with population decline. The EU, meanwhile, stands for inclusivity, diversity and the protection of minorities as the central tenets of a pan-European value structure, according to which member states’ separate social policies must harmonise within a greater whole. 

For progressives, the Commission’s decision to sue Hungary over the Child Protection law is an ‘historic’ defence of universal human rights being abused in the country. In its referral to the ECJ, the Commission claims the Hungarian law violates “the fundamental rights of individuals (in particular LGBTIQ people) as well as – with regard to those fundamental rights – EU values.”  

Yet while the EU sees the Child Protection law as a restriction of human rights, Budapest frames it differently – as a reasonable limitation on freedom of speech. 

When discussing the controversy over the law, Hungarian politicians note that LGBT rights are in fact more advanced in Hungary than in many other EU states. In its “Rainbow Europe Map” for 2022, ILGA Europe gave Hungary a score of 30%. Not great, but still far better than other EU members such as Romania and Bulgaria, on 18% each, and better than some countries which tend to be seen as more progressive, such as the Czech Republic. 

The fundamental difference is that Hungary does not see “promotion” of LGBT causes — what the Hungarian government calls “LGBT ideology” — as a right. On the contrary, Orbán’s government suggests that exposure to LGBT-positive content could violate children’s own right to the benefits of life within the traditional family model. In this context, the production and dissemination of LGBT-positive content is deemed a freedom which violates the “harm principle” of classical liberalism, in which individuals can act however they wish so long as their actions don’t hurt others. 

Is Hungary’s Child Protection law a restriction of fundamental human rights, or a limitation on freedoms which may cause harm? It’s within this ethical grey area that a cultural rift between Hungary and the EU has opened up — and as the matter goes to the courts, the ideological divide is only getting wider.

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Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 months ago

“Protection of minorities” Yes, OK to that but that doesn’t mean that they can brainwash young children and lead some (many?) astray including ‘advice’ on major surgery before their brains can get a hold on the total consequences.

Zolt Zolt
Zolt Zolt
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

The truth is, that nobody is harrassing these lmbtq… people in Hungary. Nobody is dealing with them – until they start crying for rights and freedom and protection… (?). Boring and grueling, pseudo-problem created by them.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

“The EU, meanwhile, stands for inclusivity, *diversity* and the protection of minorities* as the central tenets of a pan-European value structure, according to which member states’ separate social policies must *harmonise* within a greater whole. ”

If member states must harmonise, then diversity is not so important.

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrea X
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

If the Hungarians don’t like it, maybe they should follow Britains lead and leave the voluntary bloc. But of course that would mean giving up the vast sums of money they receive.
I’m no fan of the EU and voted Leave, but I always find Orban rather hypocritical. He criticises the bloc constantly, while stood there with his hand out expecting the EU to fund his country.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I don’t find it hypocritical. Hungary as an overall beneficiary of economic transfers simply has a greater incentive to push back against EU social policy overreach than we did as net contributors. They are quite entitled to stay and fight for a less intrusive EU social policy that recognises that different countries have different social ecologies that should be respected by the EU.
The EU is not in favour of all minorities, just the chosen ones. I don’t imagine that they would be taking action if Hungary banned the promotion of bestiality or the lowering of the age of consent to 12 for example. Banning the promotion of practices to children is far from being the same as banning the practices themselves. If the law is unpopular in Hungary it will be largely disregarded without consequences just as the similar measure introduced by Thatcher’s government was.

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Banning the promotion of practices to children is far from being the same as banning the practices themselves.’
That, of course, is the point. But, as always, the EU lot, like the rest of the ‘progressive’ nuts, are too thick, blind or dishonest to accept that.
No doubt they will arrange for a helpfully prejudiced court to decide the issue.

Will Fleming.
Will Fleming.
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Lewis

Perhaps we can secure another court of any type,to look into the somewhat unhealthy looking relationship between Ms VdL and nice Mr Bourla. That might go some way towards reestablishing a little confidence in the EU as an arbiter of anything moral.

Philip Crowley
Philip Crowley
2 months ago
Reply to  Will Fleming.

Excellent idea, Will Fleming. Perhaps we could shine a light Ms Von der Leyen’s relationship with nice Mr Schwab while we’re at it.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I do understand what you’re saying, I just find his constant complaining rather tiresome. If you don’t like it then give your citizens a vote to leave, but of course that would mean losing the vast subsidies and I don’t believe Orban is principled enough to do such a thing

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You play the cards you are dealt. The UK could afford to be “principled” as a net contributor in a way Hungary can’t. He is entitled to complain about EU overreach and have it tested. He has legitimate arguments regarding the EU’s interpretation. Why should he roll over?

Borsos Endre
Borsos Endre
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That would be impossible to do. Subsidies are not the main benefit of EU membership. Hungary is nothing like Britain, our economy cannot exist without strong connections to Germany and other EU states. Hungary has no choice but to stay in the EU. The right thing to do would be to reform the EU, and Orbán recently presented his proposals (moving towards a union based on national states, rather than stronger integration). Of course, these ideas will not be considered, and EU decision-makers will insist on trying to remove Orbán from office. Now they have fair chances to achieve that, but it is also possible that other EU governments fall first, and sovereignist govts. replace them. The results of the coming crisis are hard to predict.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Are those 2 things not banned? — whether or not, as one of the unchosen minorities, I exercise my still available freedom of speech to say that bestiality and 12AoC are in fact realities. This culture has, as typified by UvdL et EU al, shipwrecked any notion or even definition of morality – after all, cow or 11 year old..love is love. Right?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agreed; if you belong to an organisation you abide by the rules of that organisation . If you don’t like the rules by all means campaign, and do your utmost to get them changed; if you can’t change them then leave – simple. There does seem to be a lot of celebration of “right-wing” demagogues on this site, hence Mr Orban gets a pass whereas a “left-wing” demagogue would (rightly) be condemned.

Last edited 2 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

The definition of a demagogue seems to be something along these lines: “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.”

Victor Orban seems to appeal to the desires and prejudices of a significant proportion of Hungary’s population but I am not sure where you feel the arguments he uses are not rational. What he has done is to do what left wingers have done in the UK and elsewhere – that is to seek to embed his supporters in various government and non-government organs making the task of dislodging his policies rather harder for the opposition. Our conservative governments in recent years have in contrast made little headway in rolling back the opposition embedded in quangos and other non-government sources of power and influence.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago

I happen to agree with a lot of what Orban says on the matter, I don’t think it’s necessary to push LGBTQASD etc in schools. However it’s the way he expects the bloc his country is voluntarily a part of to hand over vast amounts of cash, while wanting to seemingly ignore all the rules of being in that bloc somewhat distasteful.
As I said I voted to Leave, but I doubt Orban would ever do the same

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Surely EU states are allowed to have some disagreement regarding social policy. LGBQT causes are deeply divisive. Over here in the US they’re being rammed into everything: entertainment, media, religion, politics etc. LGBQT ideology has moved from tolerance to acceptance, more recently on to endorsement, and now enforcement. Hungary is better off not poking around in that anthill.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I agree with you there, I believe the EU takes away far too much sovereignty from nations, which is why I voted to leave it. My point was that Orban every other week is picking a fight and refusing the abide by the rules of a voluntary bloc, yet he still expects vast subsidies and would never give Hungarians a vote on leaving. Just because socially I align more with him than the EU doesn’t mean I think his actions at times amount to wanting to have his cake and eat it

Adam F
Adam F
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Why should they quit? No, they don’t criticize the EU, they govern, and then the EU criticizes them. And want them to punish, constantly. That’s a difference

Steve White
Steve White
2 months ago

All we need to do to understand where the LGBT positive agenda is headed is look at nations that capitulate to it. What is sold as rights winds up taking away rights of those of the more traditional family values, or of biblical values, calling them hate speech. Pastors being threatened with jail for quoting the bible should never be the case, yet, this is what happens, and what will happen. Progressive postmodern values will be forced on you. You will become a thought criminal.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve White
Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Whilst I understand that absolutely any minority, no matter how tiny, must have more credit and protection than old white working class men, (both in the EU and in Boris’s version of being outside the EU), I am still unsure… does LGBTQWERTY trump Militant Islam, or is it the other way round?
As they do stand for very different approaches to life, enquiring minds would love to know.
I’m guessing that, as LGBTQWERTY enthusiasts tend not to be quite as excitable – or at least not as violent, our beloved leaders will, through abject cowardice added to their normal crass stupidity, favour backing Militant Islam when the chips are down.
So who rules the dungheap? Just asking…

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Yes, the rainbow flag is the modern-day version of the swastika.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

That’s because traditional society is rooted in a shared idea of the common good. LGBTXYZ is rooted in the philosophy of maximal individual autonomy. If your guiding principle is “everyone gets to do whatever he wants”, all other norms, customs, laws, myths, standards, ethics, etc… must be discarded, since those things might get in the way of someone’s “autonomy”. Hence, LGBTXYZ must trump all else.
It turns out the sexual revolution of the 60’s was really about a postmodern abandonment of truth and objective reality — just almost no one realized it at the time.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 months ago

A Hungarian could go to Hungary earlier this year and vote to toss Orban out of office.

Where can a European go to vote Ursula von der Leyen out of office?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

You’re absolutely right about this, but it’s not really relevant to the question at hand, or at least I can’t see the relevance.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

I think the relevance is that while Orban can be ejected if the population of Hungary doesn’t like his policy the President of the EU that is seeking to overturn one of his policies does not face the same risk at the ballot box so can support the pursuit of policies largely irrespective of their general popularity.

Right or wrong the policy adopted by Orban appears to have local support.

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
2 months ago

Orban is right. Any attempts by ethnic majorities and traditionalists to protect their own interests is disingenuously portrayed as infringing the so-called rights of the professionally offended.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Well done Hungary!

Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
2 months ago

Pretty rich, this EU hypocrisy over human rights after they abridged basic human rights over the last two years of Covid authoritarianism and are about to repeat that with their digital C-Pass restricting intra-EU freedom of movement, not to mention the online censorship of dissenting views in their draft Digital Markets Act. Besides, where exactly does the ECHR say that those with aberrant sexual preferences have a right to teach their preferences to other people’s children?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago

Hear hear! How we let the left get away with this is dumbfounding, but the tide is starting to turn, as seen in Virginia in the U.S. Forcibly replacing one religious view with another, to protect a psychological disorder, doesn’t make sense in a democracy.

Joann Robertson
Joann Robertson
2 months ago

My response to Hungary’s is: Good, at least one country in Europe has escaped the trans ideology that promotes the idea that children can decide they are really not their biological sex and start them on drugs followed by surgery. This insanity needs to be called out for what it is: The promotion of an ideology based on social engineering, not biological science.

Emily Eskdale
Emily Eskdale
2 months ago

If only our next PM would stand up to the toxic trans ideology being force-fed to our children. I think Kemi is the only one who would oppose it, sadly though I think Rishi will get the top job.

David Harris
David Harris
2 months ago

The chances of the EUs ‘highest court’ going in Hungary’s favour are of course near zero.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago

The EU bureaucrats are really willing to die on the “children must have access to cross-sex hormones” hill? Western civilization has truly jumped the shark.

Dawn Muir
Dawn Muir
2 months ago

Very good, balanced report on this issue! Thanks!