European Union leaders, including President Ursula von der Leyen, warned Hungary on Wednesday, July 7, that they would take legal action against it and even withhold funds allotted to help with the pandemic if it did not step back from the anti-pedophilia law that will go into effect on Thursday, July 8.
Von der Leyen, president of the European Union said, “It is a disgrace this legislation … It is something that flies in the face of the values of the European Union.”
For its part, Brussels warned that it is considering legal action and considering withholding pandemic relief funds if Hungary does not reverse its decision to implement the law.
“If Hungary does not rectify the situation, the commission will use its powers available as the guardian of the treaties,” von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Viktor Orbán’s conservative government passed the anti-pedophilia law, which bans the promotion or showing of homosexual material to children under 18 in schools, in films and in the media.
European community leaders find the law conflicts with the acceptance of homosexuality and consider it stigmatizes them.
“Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatized, be it because of whom they love, because of their age, their ethnicity, their political opinions, or their religious beliefs,’ said von der Leyen.
However, the Orbán government resisted threats from European leaders and branded the pressure as an “unprecedented campaign” to interfere with Hungary’s domestic affairs.
“No matter that Brussels wants to let LGBTQ activists into kindergartens and schools, we refuse to do so,” said Gergely Gulyas, Orbán’s chief of staff at a press conference in Budapest.
The European Union has tried before to punish Hungary by taking away its voting rights because of its conservative stances, but failed to get the necessary votes as it is supported by Poland, another conservative and nationalist government.
Poland’s education minister even went so far as to say that the law was so good that it should be applied throughout Poland.
In addition to Poland, the prime minister of Slovenia, which took over the rotating presidency of the European commission, hinted in recent statements that he might go so far as to support Hungary in its dispute.
“There are differences that need to be taken into account and respected and I think there’s a clear division between national and European competences,” the Slovenian said. He also emphasized that European values are perceived differently between different EU states.
Joining the support is French MEP Nicolas Bay of Marine le Pen’s National Rally party, who called it “scandalous” that Hungary has been so strongly criticized for the anti-pedophilia law.
“Hungary wants to protect its children against the delusion of gender theory. Budapest is right,” said Nicolas Bay.
Of the bloc’s 27 members, 17—including Germany, France, Spain and Italy, signed a letter repudiating the Orbán government. The Hungarian prime minister has endured great pressure to stand by his convictions.
They are expected to vote Thursday to cut off funding to alleviate the ravages of the pandemic if Hungary continues to stand firm on its anti-pedophilia law.