25 June 2021
European Union leaders are in a dispute with Hungary over a law the Hungarian parliament passed last week.
The law bans sharing information about homosexuality or sex change operations with people under 18 in school sex education programs, movies or advertisements.
EU leaders clashed with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban Thursday during an EU leader's meeting in Brussels.
A majority of the EU's 27 leaders said Hungary's law is discriminatory and goes against EU values. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Orban to respect LGBT rights or to consider leaving the EU.
"It was about our values; this is what we stand for," Rutte told reporters on Friday. "I said 'Stop this, you must withdraw the law and, if you don't like that and really say that the European values are not your values, then you must think about whether to remain in the European Union.'"
Several people told The Associated Press that the meeting in Brussels got very tense and emotional.
Hungary's president signed the law Wednesday. The government says the law will protect children. But critics say it is unfair to homosexuals. The law will take effect in about two weeks.
Speaking in Brussels, Orban said he would not withdraw the law. He said it does not target gay people.
"It's not about homosexuality, it's about the kids and the parents," Orban said. "I am defending the rights of homosexual guys but this law is not about them."
Orban has been in power since 2010 and is facing an election next year. He has pushed laws that support what he says are traditional Catholic values.
EU members Hungary and Poland have disagreed with other EU countries before. Their governments often support policies considered conservative by other EU members.
The EU has disapproved of laws that Hungary has passed affecting reporters, judges, immigrants and academics.
Xavier Bettel is the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and is openly gay. He said the EU should fight the law. He also said Hungary should be subject to an EU rule that decreases money for countries that pass anti-democratic laws. The new rule has not yet been tested.
Seventeen out of 27 leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, signed a joint letter stating their support of protecting gay rights.
"We all made it very clear which fundamental values" we follow, she said.
Bettel said the only country other than Poland to support Orban during the meeting was Slovenia.
He said it was time for the EU to use its new rules.
"Most of the time, money is more convincing than talk," Bettel said.
I'm Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story based on reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
homosexuality –n. being sexually attracted to people of the same sex
LGBT -–acronym -Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
academic — n. a person who is a teacher in a college or university
fundamental — adj. forming or relating to the most important part of something
convincing— adj. causing someone to believe that something is true or certain