Monday

27th Sep 2021

Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride

  • Separately, MEPs have asked the European Commission to refuse Hungary access to the €750bn Covid-19 pandemic recovery plan, if Viktor Orban's government does not reverse course (Photo: Kuba Bożanowski)

The Hungarian government is at odds not only with the EU - but with embassies and institutions around the world over its controversial new anti-LGBTIQ law, ahead of Budapest Pride this Saturday (24 July).

A total of 30 embassies and 12 cultural institutes have signed an open letter expressing "full support for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community and their rights to equality and non-discrimination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom from violence."

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The letter, published this week on the websites of the various embassies (namely, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, US) and echoed by 12 cultural institutes in Hungary is calling for Viktor Orban's government to respect the rule of law and human rights "upon which democratic states are built".

On the eve of the Budapest Pride Parade, the letter specifically refers to the event's "role in promoting equality of treatment and social acceptance for all LGBT+ persons, and contributing to the creation of a more open, just, inclusive and equal society".

International concern comes as Hungary in recent years has moved increasingly rapidly against LGBTIQ rights, from outlawing same-sex adoption, to not recognising gay marriage.

In December 2020, lawmakers amended the Hungarian constitution, with a new definition for the family "as the union of a father who is a man and a mother who is a woman", effectively excluding transgender and other LGBTIQ individuals.

Orban's 11 years in office have also included a ban on Hungarians wanting to change their gender legally, and - most recently - the highly-controversial anti-LGBT law on banning "homosexual and transexual propaganda".

Unanimously approved by the Hungarian parliament on 15 June 2021, the law prohibits sharing content on homosexuality or sex reassignment to people under 18 in school sex-education programmes, films or advertisements.

The new law will also allow the Hungarian government to establish an approved list of sex-education providers in schools - prompting international reaction from embassies stressing the need for "elected leaders and governments to show respect for and protect the rights of LGBT+ persons".

Earlier this week (21 July), in the wake of possible delays in the EU approving Hungary's pandemic recovery plan, Orban suddenly announced a referendum on the law, which is officially known as the Children Protection Act.

The PM urged Hungary to vote for the law, with Orban repeating that the law has the stated purpose of safeguarding children's well-being, and fighting paedophilia.

But with the controversial law already voted onto the statute book, the forthcoming referendum, the international condemnation and harsh reaction from Brussels, this weekend's 2021 pride march appears to be more politically charged than ever.

LGBTIQ activists are likely to use the Budapest parade as a show of solidarity for their community, and against Orban's government.

The European Commission and the European Parliament have previously launched a separate "rule of law" action against Hungary.

MEPs are asking the European Commission to move ahead with legal action, and to even refuse Hungary access to the €750bn Covid-19 pandemic recovery plan, if Orban's government does not reverse course.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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