EU Takes Hungary to Highest Court Over LGBT and Media Rules

The European Union’s executive intensified its legal standoff with Hungary on Friday by taking the country to the E.U.’s highest court over a restrictive law on LGBT issues and media freedom.

E.U. For over a decade, the European Commission had attempted to get Hungary to amend a law prohibiting content portraying and promoting homosexuality. The European Commission said it “discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“The Commission considers that the law violates the internal market rules, the fundamental rights of individuals (in particular LGBTIQ people) as well as—with regard to those fundamental rights—the EU values,” the statement said.

It was the latest episode in a long political battle in which Brussels perceives Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as deliberately stepping away from the cornerstones of Western democracy while Hungary depicts the European Commission as overly meddling in internal politics and imposing moral standards it considers far too liberal.

Hungary’s right-wing governing party last year banned the depiction of homosexuality or sex reassignment in media targeting minors under 18. The inclusion of information about homosexuality in schools sex education programs or advertisements was prohibited.

Fidesz the ruling party, claimed these were measures to prevent children being pedophilic. However, the law provoked large demonstrations in Budapest. Critics, including many international rights organizations, claimed that the laws served to stigmatize LGBTQ persons and conflate them with pedophiles.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen immediately called the law “a shame” and made it a point of pride to counter it with legal procedures. Friday’s decision was the latest step in the drawn-out process.

“The Commission decided to bring the case to court because the Hungarian authorities have not sufficiently addressed the Commission’s concerns and have not included any commitment from Hungary to remedy the situation,” European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said.

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The commission also criticized the reduction in media freedoms within the member states. On Friday, it brought Hungary before the European Court of Justice. It believes that Hungary pushed out a radio station for refusing to follow the government’s line.

Klubradio, a commercial radio station, went offline over a decade ago. This was the last channel in Hungary to regularly feature opposition politicians or other critics during news and talk programming.

Critics of the government say the station’s liberal stance led to a discriminatory decision by the country’s media regulator when it refused to renew Klubradio’s broadcasting license.

After losing its radio frequency, the station now broadcasts exclusively online.

“The (EU) Commission believes that Hungary is in breach of EU law by applying disproportionate and nontransparent conditions to the renewal of Klubradio’s rights to use radio spectrum,” the EU statement said.

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