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'A disgrace': Hungary must ditch anti-LGBT law, EU executive says

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Demonstrators attend a protest against a law that bans LGBTQ content in schools and media at the Presidential Palace in Budapest, Hungary, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo/File Photo

The European Union's chief executive Ursula von der Leyen warned Hungary on Wednesday (7 July) it must repeal legislation that bans schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality or face the full force of EU law, write Robin Emmott and Gabriela Baczynska, Reuters.

The legislation introduced by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban was sharply criticised by EU leaders at a summit last month, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte telling Budapest to respect EU values of tolerance or leave the 27-country bloc.

"Homosexuality is equated with pornography. This legislation uses the protection of children ... to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation ... It is a disgrace," European Commission President von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"No issue was as important as the one that impinges on our values and our identity," von der Leyen said of the Hungarian law discussion at the June EU summit, saying it went against the protection of minorities and respect for human rights.

Von der Leyen said Hungary would face the full force of EU law if it did not back down, although she did not give details. Such steps could mean a ruling by the European Court of Justice and the freezing of EU funds for Budapest, EU lawmakers say.

Orban, who has been Hungary's prime minister since 2010 and faces an election next year, has become more conservative and combative in promoting what he says are traditional Catholic values under pressure from the liberal West.

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The Spanish government last month approved the draft of a bill to allow anyone over the age of 14 to change gender legally without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy, the first large EU country to do so, in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called the split over values between eastern countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovenia as a "cultural battle".

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