Thirteen European Union countries have expressed concern over Hungary’s new law against paedophiles, saying that it discriminates against the LGBT community and violates “the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting children”, Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said on Tuesday.
Wilmes said the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have signed a joint statement criticising Hungary’s new law for introducing “a prohibition of the ‘portrayal and the promotion of gender identity different from sex at birth, the change of sex and homosexuality’ for persons under 18”.
The statement said the law also violated the freedom of expression and limited the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information.
Stigmatising sexual minorities constitutes a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, it added.
Wilmes, who is participating in a meeting of the EU’s General Affairs Council, said the new law had been discussed at the meeting. She said the Benelux countries had a duty to speak out if they believed that the rights of sexual minorities and EU values were being undermined.
The minister said the statement’s signatories have called on the European Commission to use every tool available to ensure that EU law is respected, even referring the case to the EU court, if necessary.
Commenting on the joint statement, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said that “like several others before it”, the statement was declaring a piece of Hungarian legislation to be in violation of EU law without the signatories having assessed the law in question.
She criticised the statement for containing “completely baseless fake news”.
Hungary believes that the legislation has nothing to do with EU law, Varga said, adding that the principle of subsidiarity and constitutional and national identity were national competences. Further, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also declares that providing the cultural and traditional background for a child’s development is the right of the parent, she said.
Hungary’s anti-paedophile law does not discriminate against anyone and imposes no restrictions on the freedom of expression, Varga said.