Along with Jarosław Kaczyński's Poland, Viktor Orban's Hungary's has developed a reputation as one of the "bad boys of Europe" due to Orban's embrace of what he calls "illiberal democracy." A strident nationalist, Orban has closed Hungary's borders to immigrants, drove out meddlesome foreign NGOs backed by billionaire George Soros, and other policies that are at odds with Brussels' meddlesome, transnational priorities.
At a time when the EU needs Hungary (whose notoriously low corporate tax rate has been a boon for economic growth) to help support America's international trade agenda which currently involves convincing the world (or at least the OECD) to adopt a minimum corporate tax rate, Brussels has renewed its rhetorical attacks on Budapest, demanding that the country scrap a new LGBTQ+ law.
Hungary says the law bars young children from being exposed to "sexual propaganda", while the European Commission insists it discriminates against LGBTQ+ people.
This Hungarian bill is a shame.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 23, 2021
It discriminates people on the basis of their sexual orientation & goes against the EU's fundamental values.
We will not compromise.
I will use all the legal powers of @EU_Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed. pic.twitter.com/RzWPpue0CD
A spokesman for the Hungarian government defended the law and said the EU is open to discuss it.
"We stand ready to debate the law with those who have spoken out against it," he told the BBC on Tuesday. "The law is strictly about the protection of children. It says that for minors under 18, sexual education has to be appropriate and what we don’t want is the intrusion of so-called LGBTQ+ lobby NGOs and pressure groups walking into kindergartens and schools to explain to children why it’s a great idea to have hormone treatments and operations to change their sex before they’re 18. These are not acceptable practices."
Speaking in a video published on Wednesday, Orban bashed the EU's latest attack, insisting that he is not willing to back down in accordance with the EU's demands.
"Hungarian laws do not permit sexual propaganda in kindergartens or schools, on television and in advertisements," Orban said, adding that, in Western Europe, LQBTQ+ activists propagate their message in educational institutions, something Hungarians are against.
In response to the EU's legal action against Hungary, Orban said he would now hold a five-question referendum on the issue. Here are the questions, according to RT. The EU is already pushing a plan to tie access to the bloc's recovery funds to upholding the rule of law, something over which Budapest decided to take the European Commission to court over.
- Do you support the holding of a lesson on sexual orientation in a state education institution without parental consent?
- Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minors?
- Do you support the availability of gender reassignment treatments for minors?
- Do you support the unrestricted presentation of media content of a sexual nature to minors regarding their sexual development?
- Do you support the presentation of gender-sensitive media content to minors?
The law, which the EU has denounced as anti-LGBTQ, has prompted outrage in Brussels, with one of Europe's longtime leaders, Dutch PM Mark Rutte, even suggesting that Hungary should consider leaving the bloc.
While one provision of the controversial law focuses on increasing the punishment for convicted pedophiles, another stipulates that LGBTQ+ issues cannot be portrayed or promoted to under-18s. Orban says the law has been misunderstood by those in the EU, stating: "This is not against homosexuality. It’s about the right of the kids and the parents."
In addition to pushing for Hungary's outcast from the EU, PM Rutte has also said his "goal is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue". We suspect Orban won't simply stand by and allow that to happen.