By Krisztina Than and Gabriela Baczynska
BUDAPEST/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed on Thursday he would not give in to EU pressure to repeal a new law banning schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality, as the bloc’s lawmakers called for penalties over the legislation.
The law, which came into force on Thursday, has set Orban on a collision course with rights groups, the EU executive Commission and other leaders who say it goes against the bloc’s core principles.
“The European Parliament and the European Commission want that we let LGBTQ activists and organisations into the kindergartens and schools. Hungary does not want that,” Orban said on his official Facebook page.
“Here Brussels bureaucrats have no business at all, no matter what they do we will not let LGBTQ activists among our children.” The issue was one of national sovereignty, he added.
Critics say the law wrongly conflates paedophilia and pornography with LGBT issues. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive Commission has called it a “disgrace”.
Later on Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the law and demanding that EU countries and the European Commission use every power to stop it.
The non-binding resolution – adopted with 459 votes for and 147 against – included calls for the Commission to launch a so-called infringement procedure taken against EU members who violate the bloc’s laws.
“LGBTIQ rights are human rights,” said the resolution, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, as well as those questioning their sexual orientation.
It also called for a separate EU legal procedure that can cut funding for member countries that undermine rule of law. The effectiveness of this new mechanism has yet to be tested.
Orban, in power since 2010 and facing a challenging election next year, has grown increasingly radical on social policy in a self-proclaimed crusade to safeguard what he says are traditional Christian values from Western liberalism.
On Thursday, the NGOs Amnesty International and Hatter Society flew a huge heart-shaped rainbow colour balloon over Hungary’s parliament building in protest against the law.
“Its aim is to erase LGBTQI people from the public sphere,” David Vigh, director of Amnesty International Hungary, said of the law, which he vowed not to observe.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)