Eighteen countries unite at Belgium's initiative to defend LGBTIQ rights in Europe
18 European Union Member States, at the initiative of Belgium, expressed their deep concern in a joint declaration about the adoption by the Hungarian Parliament of amendments that discriminate against LGBTIQ people and violate the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting children. Member States condemn the new legislation as a blatant form of discrimination and stigmatization of LGBTIQ people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The legislation also clearly violates the freedom of expression enshrined in the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Sophie Wilmès: "The new Hungarian legislation undermines the fundamental values of the Europe we stand for. Belgium immediately took the lead in raising the issue at the General Affairs Council today, together with our partners from the Benelux - traditionally champions of LGBTIQ rights. Our country has also taken the initiative to draft a joint statement that is a clear call to action. I am pleased to see 17 member states wanted to join us. A value based Union is not a menu à la carte. We have a collective responsibility to protect the rights of all EU citizens, and therefore we have a duty to speak out and respond when these rights and values are undermined. We also have a duty to tell our partners when we are deeply convinced that they have taken the wrong path."
In their joint declaration, the signatory member states call upon the European Commission - as guardian of the treaties - to use all the tools at its disposal to ensure compliance with European laws, including recourse to the European Court of Justice.
Statement by Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Latvia, Italy, Greece, Austria, Cyprus and Portugal (*)
We express our grave concern about the adoption by the Hungarian Parliament of amendments which discriminate against LGBTIQ persons and violate the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting children.
These amendments to a number of Hungarian laws (Child Protection Act, Act on Business Advertising Activity, Media Act, Family Protection Act and Public Education Act) introduce 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.
It represents a flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and hence deserves to be condemned. Inclusion, human dignity and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles.
These amendments also violate the freedom of expression, by limiting the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference by public authority, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Stigmatizing LGBTIQ persons constitute a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, as provided for in the EU Charter and international law.
Beyond the discussions taking place at the General Affairs Council, we urge the European Commission as Guardian of the Treaties to use all the tools at its disposal to ensure full respect for EU law, including by referring the matter to the ECJ.
We stand to protect the rights of all EU citizens.
(*) After the European Affairs Council, Italy, Greece, Austria, Cyprus and Portugal decided to join the statement