BRUSSELS (AP) — The four biggest groups in the European Union's legislature added more pressure on Hungary on Monday to counter what they see as steadfast deterioration in rule of law and democratic principles in the central European member state.
The Christian Democrat, Socialist, Liberal and Green groups — in addition to the smaller Left group — issued a joint letter that criticized Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government for rolling back rights for LGBTI people and curtailing other democratic principles. It also called on the EU's executive Commission to hold back funds for Budapest until liberal democracy principles are met.
“In our view, it clearly makes it impossible to give a positive assessment of the first payment under the Recovery and Resilience Plan,” from which Budapest hopes to get billions in euros to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter of the EPP, S&D. Renew Europe, the Greens/EFA and The Left said.
In a letter rife with criticism on how Budapest deals with teachers' and LGBTI people's rights it added that “equality, human dignity and fundamental rights are the core of the founding of the EU, and we trust your commitment to take effective action when a member state deliberately breaches these EU values.”
Over a dozen EU nations, including France and Germany, and EU institutions have already started court proceedings against Budapest for what they see as discriminatory LGBTI policies, outlining a fundamental rift within the 27-nation EU, where unanimity is often necessary to push policies through.
On Monday, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga was holding talks with EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders to try to dislodge the disbursement of the crisis subsidies, but the talks ended without a major breakthrough.
Hungary, a large recipient of EU funds, has come under increasing criticism for veering away from democratic norms. The commission has for nearly a decade accused Orban of dismantling democratic institutions, taking control of the media and infringing on minority rights. Orban, who has been in office since 2010, denies the accusations.
Yet last Friday, in a rare display of dissenting views within Hungary’s government, president Katalin Novak sent a law back to parliament that would allow for the anonymous reporting of same-sex families.
Novak wrote in a letter to the speaker of Hungary’s parliament that she believed elements of the draft law “may serve to increase mistrust between members of the community,” and that the amendment lacked legal certainty.
The draft law, approved by Hungary’s parliament on April 11, would allow Hungarians to anonymously report to authorities individuals deemed to be contesting the “constitutionally recognized role of marriage and the family” and those who deny children’s rights “to an identity appropriate to their sex at birth.”
Hungary’s constitution, approved unilaterally by the right-wing populist Fidesz party in 2011, outlaws same-sex marriage, and the government has prohibited same-sex couples from adopting children. The government has also outlawed the depiction of homosexuality or divergent gender identities to minors in media content.
In her letter, Novak wrote that the proposed law “does not strengthen but rather weakens the protection of the values enshrined in the Constitution.”