Four of Malta’s MEPs have strongly condemned the continued actions of the Hungarian government under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán against the LBGTIQ+ community.
The Hungarian government’s latest anti-LGBTIQ+ law banning the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s, including banning homosexuality and sex reassignment in school education material and TV programmes aimed at under-18s.
This latest action by Hungary was met by immediate condemnation by other EU countries, highlighting it as yet another example of democratic failings within the country.
Lovin Malta reached out to MEPs Roberta Metsola, Josianne Cutajar, David Casa and Cyrus Engerer, all of whom strongly condemned the law and called upon the European Union to act swiftly if their assessment concludes that the law does indeed violate EU Law.
The latest anti-LGBTI law in #Hungary deserves strong condemnation and a discussion on what steps can be taken at EU level.
— Cyrus Engerer (@engerer) June 22, 2021
“LGBTQI Rights are human rights, in Malta, in Hungary, in Europe and everywhere else in the world”, Cyrus Engerer told Lovin Malta. “LGBTQI Rights are a staple of European values and this was made clear when the European Parliament created a Parliamentary resolution declaring the European Union as an LGBTIQ freedom zone”.
He further went on to highlight that “European identity includes equality and diversity – these are European values and thus, we cannot accept any legislative attacks in any European Member State”.
Having been the lead negotiator for the S&D group for the resolution, Engerer has always been a staunch champion of LGBTQI rights across the EU and has warmly welcomed the Commission’s assessment f the Hungarian Law.
However, Engerer stated that the assessment must be “swift with conclusions published as soon as possible and action taken against Hungary expediently because what is happening is putting people in grave danger in Hungary”.
On the topic of the EU’s LGBTIQ Freedom Zone Resolution, Engerer stated his belief that it “has created a new momentum and better alliances across the European Union when it comes to the specific need to unite behind the cause of equality and protection of minorities”.
“I believe that the Resolution identifies multiple ways in which Member States can improve their legislations in order to better protect the LGBTIQ Community.”
One way in which he hopes it may offer is further awareness and support for laws such as the prohibition of forced genital mutilation of intersex individuals, where currently only Malta, Portugal and some regions of Spain have such legislation.
“In the European Parliament, before this resolution came to be, some MEPs were not even aware of this heinous and shocking reality in our Union”, he explained.
“The mobilisation of the international community is important, and the resolution was the first step in mobilising people all across the EU to step up the fight against discrimination towards the LGBTIQ community, by highlighting the more pressing issues LGBTIQ persons in the EU face.”
The 🇭🇺Gov’s recent attack on its citizens must be condemned without reservation. It’s time for @EU_Commission to take action. I join colleagues across political groups in calling for the withdrawal of the recent law. Keeping this vile legislation in force must have consequences.
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) June 16, 2021
Malta’s longest-serving MEP condemned the “vile law” as just the latest “in a series of attacks by the Orbán government against Hungarian citizens”.
“What we are witnessing is the rapid erosion of fundamental freedoms in Hungary, made possible to a large extent, through the capture of media houses and dissemination of far-right propaganda intended to fan prejudice and turn citizens against each other.”
Casa went on to emphasise that “there is no place for homophobia in the European Union. None at all. And these attacks on fellow European citizens must be condemned without reservation”.
He further stated that while declaring the EU as an LGBTIQ+ Freedom Zone is positive and sends the right message, it is only a declaration and thus, has no legal standing.
“If the Orbán government keeps this law in place, there must be concrete consequences” he continued. “The EU cannot be credible in pushing for fundamental freedoms on the other side of the globe before we get our own house in order”.
On the topic of the Commission’s assessment of Orbán’s new law in terms of potential EU law breaches, Casa stated that “the answer is self-evident” and hoped that the assessment proceeded as swiftly as possible, with “concrete action” following without delay.
“To all those in the #LGBTIQ community: this is your Europe too.
To parents worried about the safety of their LGBTIQ children: we have your back.
In this Europe, you can be whoever you want to be – wherever you want to be – & our Union must protect that right”. pic.twitter.com/ld8Txhwohs
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) June 16, 2021
Having been the lead negotiator behind the LGBTIQ+ Freedom Zone on behalf of the EPP group, Metsola stated that while the resolution was always symbolic rather than legislative, “symbolism is important”.
“The resolution sent a message to everyone that in our Europe, you can be who you want to be, love who you want to love and that the EU will protect your rights.”
“It is a statement of intent that we will not stand for discrimination anywhere”, Metsola emphasised.
She further highlighted that the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, herself a staunch supporter of LGBTIQ+ rights and equality in the EU, has already expressed grave concern at the law. As such, the EU’s assessment of the potential breaches in EU law becomes especially crucial – more so in terms of tackling the situation effectively.
“Should this assessment show that EU law has been violated then the European Commission will have to act.”
Pedophilia & LGBTI issues should NEVER be conflated. What is happening in #Hungary is shameful & nothing more than a deliberate attempt to brainwash society for political gain. I strongly condemn the legislation passed. The EU must act. @LGBTIintergroup @MGRM_Malta
— Josianne Cutajar (@josiannecutajar) June 16, 2021
Gozitan MEP Josianne Cutajar highlighted that the Hungarian parliament’s decision which “effectively bans gay people from featuring in school education materials or TV shows for under-18s should simply have no place in the European Union”.
“This action is a testament to the fact that the leading political forces in Hungary have decided to take actions that are moving away from the EU and its values, instead of towards them.”
Cutajar also stated that both “equality and the prohibition of discrimination” based on one’s sexual orientation are two key pillars enshrined within the EU’s treaties and Charter of Fundamental Rights. She also emphasised that “education and not censorship” were the way to help children and teenagers navigate through being able to understand and accept themselves.
“It is horrifying to think of all those young people that will feel alone and abandoned in Hungary trying to cope in their own terms, with no support, about their own sexuality”, Cutajar continued, while noting that this could lead to misinformation or security concerns as individuals are forced to seek information through unofficial means.
Asked about how the EU’s LGBTIQ+ Freedom Zone may affect the situation, Cutajar explained that “it is what it is – a political declaration – and therefore, needs further supporting actions”.
“That is why as an LGBTI Intergroup of the European Parliament we tabled an oral question to the Commission for the next plenary precisely on the recent actions by Hungary and the potential breaches of EU law.”
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Do you agree with what our MEPs have said? Let us know in the comments