The European Union is bracing for a difficult autumn.
Beyond the nasty fallout from Brexit — arguably the greatest crisis to befall the bloc since its creation — and recovering from a global pandemic, the 27 member states are gearing up for a huge row over LGBT rights, the rule of law and the role both should play in the Union’s future. Tensions have been bubbling for a while, but in recent days, two events have made it clear that the issue cannot be ignored any longer.
Hungary, led by the right-wing populist Viktor Orban, brought into effect a new law that bans information which “promotes” homosexuality and gender change being used in schools. The government claims it is doing to so protect children, though critics believe that prohibiting access to such information stigmatizes LGBTQ people, putting them at risk of discrimination and violence. On Wednesday of this week, Members of the European Parliament presented a legal case for the EU Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, to strip Hungary of its EU funding as it is not meeting its obligations as an EU member state.
While the case makes no mention of Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ laws, focusing instead on the country’s assaults on judicial independence, among other things, the MEPs presenting the case made clear to CNN that the two are linked. Katalin Csech, a Hungarian opposition MEP, explained that the report “establishes the legal case” for stripping funding from Orban’s government via what is called the rule of law mechanism, “based on his rampant corruption.” She adds that corruption is “intimately linked to human rights abuses like the recent attack against the LGBTI community” because “an independent judiciary should be protecting LGBTI people’s rights too.”