Hungary
"We will not tolerate the dismantling of the rule of law and the oppression of the LGBTIQ community in Hungary"

Interview with MEP Moritz Körner
Menschen protestieren vor dem ungarischen Parlament in Budapest gegen das neue Gesetzespaket
Menschen protestieren vor dem ungarischen Parlament in Budapest gegen das neue Gesetzespaket © picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | Szilard Koszticsak

Viktor Orban's new legislative package equates homosexuality with paedophilia. For next year's elections, Orban's government needed another bogeyman against which it could mobilise populistically. But sexual identity is protected in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The European Commission must immediately initiate infringement proceedings against Hungary, demands Moritz Körner in an interview. 

 

Why did Orbán launch the package of laws lumping homosexuality and paedophilia together at exactly this time?

The reasons are quite obvious - he reacts this way to distract from other problems or issues he has lost, such as the refugee crisis. Since Hungary is currently hardly receiving any refugees, he can no longer mobilise the masses with the fear of migration. Not to mention the corruption scandals surrounding the head of government as well as the Hungarian public's exasperation with the mismanagement of the pandemic. Thus, he is - justifiably - worried about losing the re-election in ten months. That is why he provokes and divides, creates a new image of the enemy in order to fish for votes on the far right. At the same time, he is aligning himself with the positions of Moscow and Beijing - knowing very well that he has no support within the EU. 

The Hungarian parliament counts a total of 199 MPs - of which 157 MPs belong to the ruling right-wing nationalist Fidesz party and the right-wing Jobbik party (which is considered to be part of the opposition) voted in favour of the bill. Merely one non-attached leftist voted against it. As a sign of protest, MPs from the left wing and liberal parties left the chamber before the vote took place.

With his law against LGBTI persons, Orbán campaigns on the back of a minority - whose protection is an important European value.

 

To what extent does the bill contradict European values and current EU law?

This week, Hungarian head of government Viktor Orbán finally made it clear where he really stands - the bill violates the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the EU Commission's plans within the framework of the LGBTI equality strategy. In addition, freedom of expression in Hungary will be massively restricted.

 

What action are you taking as an MEP?

On Tuesday, during a show of solidarity with the Hungarian LGBTI community in front of the European Parliament, I clearly called on Mrs von der Leyen to immediately initiate infringement proceedings against Hungary. Furthermore, only last week, my group Renew Europe decisively pushed forward a Parliamentary action for failure to act against the Commission. The idea is that Renew Europe and I, together with other MEPs, will sue the Commission for its failure to implement the Rule of Law Mechanism and thus call for its immediate application. The Rule of Law Mechanism, which I closely accompanied as a member of the Committee on Budgets, foresees that funds from the EU budget can be withheld in case of violation of fundamental values and rights of EU citizens. In this way, European money can be prevented from flowing into the dark pockets of corrupt governments like Hungary's and being used to keep authoritarian regimes in power that trample fundamental rights. My clear statement: European money should only be used for European values! However, the European Commission has so far not implemented this important mechanism, but only presented guidelines.

This is nothing more than a cheap diversionary tactic, which we are clearly expressing with the action for failure to act. Since so far Mrs von der Leyen has neither changed her mind in favour of freedom and tolerance nor sided with Parliament against Orbán and Fidesz, the decision now lies with the European Court of Justice, and I have great confidence in its independent decision-making. I can only speak for my group and myself - we will not tolerate the dismantling of the rule of law and the oppression of the LGBTIQ community in Hungary - and in Poland - any longer, and we will pull out all the stops at our disposal.

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