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21st Jan 2022

LGBTIQ rights: Hungary and Poland veto EU children's strategy

  • Hungarian justice minister Judith Varga accused other member states of putting the rights of LGBTIQ-”activists” above those of children. (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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Hungary and Poland have vetoed an EU strategy paper on children's rights in their latest strike against the welfare of sexual minorities.

Neither of the two countries wanted to sign the document at the EU Council on Thursday (7 October) because it continued a paragraph saying LGBTIQ-children were especially vulnerable.

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"We'll continue to resist the pressure of the LGBTIQ lobby, therefore, we veto the Council conclusions on the European Commission's Strategy on the Rights of the Child!", Hungarian justice minister Judit Varga tweeted shortly after meeting her peers in Brussels.

Doubling down, Vargas accused other member states of putting the rights of LGBTIQ activists above those of children.

When asked about the fate of the strategy, meant to help protect at-risk kids in Europe, EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders did not propose any solutions, saying all power lay in the hands of national capitals.

"The commission will continue to implement measures. The best solution is to have implementation in all member states," he said.

The EU paper on children had, prior to Thursday, already been provisionally agreed, but according to a diplomat who wished to remain anonymous, there was now a "good chance the document will end up in a drawer".

Gender and LGBTIQ-rights are enshrined in EU conventions, but over the past year nationalist-conservative rulers in Hungary and Poland have spearheaded a campaign to remove pro-LGBTIQ language from EU documents in a wide range of issues - from the gender pay-gap, to digital policy, and the Istanbul Convention on violence against women.

"[It is] disappointing that two member states choose their 'ideology' over the best interests of children, thereby blocking agreement on the EU children's rights strategy," the Dutch minister for the protection of justice, Sander Dekker, said after Thursday's meeting.

"All children deserve protection, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation," he added.

"We hoped the Council would succeed as the terms gender and LGBTIQ are commonly agreed upon, but we knew it would be tricky," another EU diplomat, who asked not to be named, also told EUobserver.

It is unclear what will happen next. Slovenia, the current EU presidency, may try to push for a retry later this year, but those chances seem slim.

Slovenian justice minister Marjan Dikaučič, who would be the man to do it, told press the rights of children would remain high on the agenda, but did not mention the rights of LGBTIQ children specifically.

And Slovenia's prime minister, Janez Janša, congratulated Hungary.

"You have our full support. Children's rights are the very basis of the human rights concept. [The] LGTBTQ etc. lobby can do whatever they like with themselves, but: hands off our children!", Janša said.

Polish officials have been muted on the subject.

But Poland is also embroiled in an escalating confrontation on rule-of-law with the commission and other member states, after the Polish Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that some parts of the EU treaty were in conflict with the country's charter.

In a strongly worded response, the commission reaffirmed that: "EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions".

Meanwhile, earlier this week, MEP's who visited Hungary raised concerns over the possible misuse of EU funds.

French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, who led the seven-member delegation, said EU taxpayers' money had ended up in the hands of private foundations, whose board members were often government allies, EUobserver reported on Wednesday.

Hungarian justice minister Varga described the EU mission as a "political witch-hunt".

And the MEPs were called "five crazy women" by Balázs Hidvéghi, a fellow European deputy, who hails from Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party.

Poland and Hungary battle to eradicate 'gender' in EU policies

The efforts by the two nationalist-conservative governments, which have both attacked LGBTIQ-rights and women' rights at home, is causing angst among several member states, who see it as a possible roll-back on gender rights.

EU tables hate-crime rules to protect women

The initiative is particularly aimed at protecting women and the LGBTIQ community as EU member states are already required to criminalise crimes committed with a racist or xenophobic motivation.

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