Ireland Co-signs Benelux Declaration on LGBTQI+ Rights in Hungary at 22 June General Affairs Council
Press release22 June 2021
Ireland has supported a declaration by the Benelux Countries that expresses grave concern regarding the Hungarian Parliament’s adoption of amendments to a bill that discriminate against the LGBTQI+ community in Hungary.
The Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D. gave Ireland’s support to the declaration at the General Affairs Council Meeting in Luxembourg on 22 June. The Benelux-led declaration criticises Hungary’s unacceptable use of child protection as a pretext for introducing measures that violate freedom of expression as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and unjustifiably target the LGBTQI+ community in Hungary.
Commenting on co-signing the Benelux declaration, The Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D. said
“I wholeheartedly endorse this declaration initiated by the Benelux member states that criticises this most recent anti-LGBTQI+ turn by Hungary. Legislation of the kind recently introduced by the Hungary Assembly has no place in the European Union. The EU is founded on fundamental values including equality and respect for human dignity and human rights; this bill is an affront to these principles. I once again urge Hungary to reconsider this measure. I echo the Declaration’s call for the European Commission to use all of the tools at its disposal to ensure Hungary respects EU law.”
22 June 2021
Notes for Editors
- On 15 June, the Hungarian National Assembly passed a bill on “stricter measures against paedophile criminals and on amending legislation related to the protection of children” by a 157 to 1 vote.
- The Speaker of the Parliament will now send the Bill to the President for signing. It is possible for the President to refer the Bill to the Constitutional Court for consideration.
- The Bill provides for restrictions in media (including advertising) on content regarded as encouraging homosexuality or gender transition. There is also a de facto prohibition on talks on LGBTQI issues in schools and educational programmes. The new legislation further stigmatises the LBGTQI community in Hungary and will have a chilling effect on NGOs advocating for LGBTQI rights and organisations who support these issues.
- International reaction and disapproval has been noticeable. Commission President Von der Leyen tweeted a statement expressing concern and saying this would be examined to see if it breaches EU law.
- Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès (Belgium is the current holder of the Benelux Presidency) noted that Benelux ministers were very concerned about the new Hungarian legislation and intend to make a joint statement at the 22 June GAC. Ireland is adding our support to this initiative.
- The Declaration contends that by falsely equating homosexuality with paedophilia, the bill stigmatises LGBTQI+ people in Hungary and violates the community’s rights to equality and human dignity. In addition, the declaration argues that the bill interferes unduly with freedom of expression rights by restricting LGBTQI+ representation in media. The declaration urges the European Commission to respond to ensure the Hungarian LGBTQI+ community’s rights are protected.
- Embassy Budapest social media has communicated Ireland’s concerns about this law, including making a clear statement of support echoing the US embassy’s expression of deep concern about the anti-LGBTQI+ aspects of the law. Embassy Budapest is coordinating this year’s statement by Embassies in Hungary supporting the Budapest Pride Parade, which takes place on 24 July.
- There have been three Article 7 Treaty on European Union (TEU) hearings at the General Affairs Council since 2018 in relation to Hungary’s adherence to the EU values enshrined in Article 2 TEU. The most recent hearing was on 22 June. Ireland has actively participated in each of these hearings, illustrating our commitment to maintaining Art 2 TEU values, not least respect for human rights.