Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte got down to it with Hungary’s nationalist leader this week and bluntly suggested that the nation quit the European Union if it can’t comply with the group’s support for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
During an EU summit Thursday in Brussels, Rutte asked why right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán doesn’t simply pull out of the EU if his nation doesn’t subscribe to the union’s values, diplomats reported.
“If you don’t like it, there is an alternative: Leave the union,” Rutte told Orbán, he recalled to reporters after the meeting, The Washington Post reported.
Other leaders have also criticized Orbán over human rights since the Hungarian parliament passed a controversial law that outlaws educational and other content for children that’s deemed to “promote homosexuality.” The measure links the LGBTQ community to pedophilia and extends an earlier law that effectively bans same-sex partners from adopting children. It also states in the constitution that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told leaders that his country’s taxpayers wouldn’t contribute funds to member states that don’t respect human rights, reported Time magazine.
“Hate, intolerance and discrimination have no place in our Union,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who is gay, wrote on Twitter after Rutte chastised Orbán.
Hate, intolerance and discrimination have no place in our Union. That's why, today and every day, we stand for diversity and LGBTI equality so that our future generations can grow up in a Europe of equality and respect. pic.twitter.com/iBP0j6G4Up
— Xavier Bettel (@Xavier_Bettel) June 24, 2021
Bettel posted a joint letter signed by a group of EU leaders, including Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron strongly supporting Europe’s LGBTQ community and calling it the “bedrock of the European Union.”
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said that Hungary had crossed the line with the new law and that EU leaders had a responsibility to protect Hungarians hurt by the measure. “The European Union is there to protect citizens,” he told reporters in Brussels.
Because of the beliefs of Hungary’s ruling politicians on LGBTQ rights, “then there is nothing for them in the European Union,” and the nation should be expelled, Rutte said in a TV interview (check out the video above).
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that the Hungarian law was “a shame.”
Orbán complained at the summit that he was being unfairly attacked and that critics don’t understand the new measure. He insisted the law is not an attack on the LGBTQ community.
“I’m a fighter for the rights, you know?” he told reporters in Brussels (see the video up top). “I’m a freedom fighter in the Communist regime …. I fought for freedom and the rights. So I am defending the rights of the homosexual guys. But this law is not that. It’s about the rights of the kids and the parents.”
The EU’s executive arm has launched a legal challenge to Hungary’s new law, which could significantly affect the EU’s assessment of whether Hungary has turned authoritarian. That’s also contrary to EU principles and could threaten Hungary’s continued membership, according to Time.
The commission could soon propose freezing payments from the EU’s financial stimulus program and budget to both Hungary and Poland, which is also under scrutiny.