Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (known as the Benelux) led the charge against Hungary's anti-LGBT law as European affairs ministers from the 27 European Union (EU) countries met to discuss the rule of law.
Last week, the Hungarian parliament passed a new law tabled by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that bans the portrayal of homosexuality and sex reassignment in school education material and TV programmes addressed to people under 18 years of age.
The bill, approved during Pride month, was met with immediate condemnation from high-ranking officials of several EU countries and groups in the European Parliament.
The outrage over the Hungarian law was discussed by the EU Council, with the Benelux ministers gathering linked-minded countries in a critical statement against the legislation. In total, 16 member states out of 27 voiced their disapproval of the Hungarian law.
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden and Latvia endorsed the Benelux text. Italy waited until the end of the meeting to add its name to the list, while Austria and Greece did so the following day.
"The law represents a flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and hence deserves to be condemned. Inclusion, human dignity and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles," the countries said.
“This Hungarian bill is a shame,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “This bill clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation. It goes against the fundamental values of the European Union: human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.”
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers that she think’s “this law is wrong, and it’s incompatible with my idea of politics, if you allow homosexual, same-sex partnerships but restrict information about them elsewhere, that also has to do with freedom of education and the like.”
EU authorities have to act urgently against countries like Hungary if they flout democratic standards and commit flagrant violations of European citizens rights.