The rainbow flag flying over the Foreign Office in 2014 via Flickr

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and leaders of 16 EU countries have signed a joint letter condemning Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

The signed letter was sent on the first day of the EU leader’s summit and pledged to “continue fighting against discrimination towards the LGBTI community”.

The letter did not address Hungary directly, but the message of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community was hard to miss, reading: “In the light of threats against fundamental rights and in particular the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.”

“A member state makes laws that stigmatize a sexual minority and that mix up pedophilia and homosexuality — you can’t let that pass,” Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Bettel said in a Brussels Playbook interview. “For us heads of state and government, that is not acceptable.”

Hungary moved ahead with an archaic ban which would restrict the promotion of LGBTQ+ material in schools.

On June 15, Viktor Orbán’s ruling party passed legislation banning “content promoting gender change or homosexuality” within the school curriculum. 

The legislation was passed by 157 votes to just one in the National Assembly, despite leading human rights officials and activists in Europe criticising the bill as “an affront against the rights and identities of LGBTI persons”.

The ruling national-conservative Fidesz party were joined by the right-wing Jobbik party in overwhelmingly voting in favour of the new measure, while an independent lawmaker voted against it.

Leftist opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest, while thousands of LGBTQ+ activists held a demonstration in Budapest on Monday (14 June) in an unsuccessful effort to prevent the new measure being passed into law.

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, said Brussels could impose measures against Hungary for their potential ruling.

Speaking before Hungary’s legislation was enacted, Dalli said the measure would be similar to those applied to Polish regions which considered themselves “LGBT-free” and LGBTQ+ free zones.

“The message is that if you don’t uphold the values of democracy or equality of the European Union, you are not entitled to take money for your project,” Dalli told Reuters.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the bill “a shame.”

In response to the European Commission, the Hungarian Prime Minister stated the “does not contain any discriminatory elements” because it “does not apply to the sexual orientation rights of those over 18 years of age.”

Below is a list of signatories for the letter:

Alexander De Croo (Belgium)
Mette Frederiksen (Denmark)
Angela Merkel (Germany)
Kaja Kallas (Estonia)
Micheál Martin (Ireland)
Kyriakos Mitsotakis (Greece)
Pedro Sánchez (Spain)
Emmanuel Macron (France)
Mario Draghi (Italy)
Nicos Anastasiades (Cyprus)
Krišjānis Kariņš (Latvia)
Xavier Bettel (Luxembourg)
Robert Abela (Malta)
Mark Rutte (Netherlands)
Sanna Marin (Finland)
Stefan Löfven (Sweden)

Related: EU equality chief warns Hungary could be sanctioned over anti-LGBT+ law