Hungary refuses to change anti-LGBTQ+ laws despite EU funding freeze

Hungary won't amend its infamous “LGBTQ+ propaganda” law despite the fact that doing so would unfreeze billions in EU funding to Budapest.

This article is about Hungary refusing to change anti-LGBTQ+ laws condemned by the EU. In the photo, a Hungarian flag flying from a building.
Image: Via Shutterstock - Raketir

Hungary won’t back down and amend policies on LGBTQ+ issues and asylum that the European Union (EU) has condemned, a government minister confirmed on Thursday, January 18. The government announced its refusal to change its infamous “LGBTQ+ propaganda” law despite the fact that doing so would unfreeze billions in EU funding to Budapest.

EU funding to Hungary has been frozen over concerns that the country’s right-wing government led by Viktor Orbán is infringing on minorities’ rights, failing to combat corruption and undermining democratic values. In particular, the EU has taken issue with Hungary’s so-called “LGBTQ+ propaganda” law, which was passed in 2021 and prohibits the portrayal of LGBTQ+ issues and identities in content destined for minors.

According to the European Commission, such legislation violates internal market rules, the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ people and the core values of the EU. Human rights groups and other EU member states have deemed the law discriminatory and even joined an EU-wide court case against Hungary.

Moreover, the Hungarian government has implemented policies that allow it to turn away asylum seekers at their borders and redirect them to embassies in Serbia and Ukraine to begin their asylum process. This practice was also condemned by the European Union and declared unlawful by the EU’s top court last year.

The release of EU funds to Hungary is tied to the country’s willingness to implement reforms to such laws in order to uphold the Union’s democratic values. In December last year, over €10 billion was released to Hungary after it undertook changes to ensure the independence of its judicial system.

However, more than €20 billion remains frozen. Speaking at the European Parliament plenary debate on Wednesday, January 17, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Funds withheld over concerns about sexual minority rights, academic freedom, and asylum will remain frozen until Hungary meets all the necessary conditions.”

In response, Balázs Hidvéghi, an MEP from the Hungarian governing party Fidesz, called the freezing of funding “ideological blackmail”, saying it was “unacceptable”.

On Thursday, Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, told reporters that there were “limits” to what Hungary would do to reach an agreement with the EU.

“The Hungarian government is willing to reach an agreement with the Commission, but in cases where people have expressed a clear opinion, it would be undemocratic and unacceptable,” Gulyas said.

“For Hungary, even despite the will of the European Commission, it is unacceptable to spread LGBTQ propaganda among children, and we also cannot abandon our position on migration issues,” he added.

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