Thirteen of the EU's 27 member states, including Ireland, voiced their "grave concern" at a new law in Hungary they said discriminates against LGBTQ people while claiming to protect children.
"Stigmatising LGBTIQ persons constitute a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, as provided for in the EU Charter and international law," they said in a joint statement initiated by Belgium and whose signatories include Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The statement was released as EU European affairs ministers held a regular meeting in Luxembourg, this one focused on rule of law issues in Hungary and Poland, both of which Brussels sees as straying from EU values.
Hungary's right-wing government last week passed a law banning educational programmes and materials for children that it deems "promoted" homosexuality, sexual identity different from that at birth, or gender reassignment.
Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, attending the meeting, defended the law, saying it is "against only the paedophiles".
I met with ???? Deputy PM @Sophie_Wilmes and ???? FM @SigridKaag this morning where I agreed to join their joint statement condemning recent anti-LGBT legislation in Hungary. The legislation is disgraceful and has no place in the EU pic.twitter.com/w66tUDncWM— Thomas Byrne (@ThomasByrneTD) June 22, 2021
On the initiative of Belgium and #Benelux, 13 member states send a strong signal against recent anti-#LGBTIQ laws ??????????passed in #Hungary and call on @EU_Commission to act. Determined to protect Europe's values and the rights of ALL ! https://t.co/q4Pp2fe5LY— Sophie Wilmès (@Sophie_Wilmes) June 22, 2021
In the joint statement, the EU countries said the legal amendments adopted by Hungary "discriminate against LGBTIQ persons and violate the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting children".
It said the law "deserves to be condemned," adding: "Inclusion, human dignity and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles."
The European Commission, as the guardian of the EU treaties, should "use all the tools at its disposal to ensure full respect for EU law, including by referring the matter to the ECJ (European Court of Justice)," the EU countries urged.
The other signatories to the text were Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia.
Belgium's Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said her country took the lead on the declaration because "the new Hungarian legislation undermines the fundamental values of the Europe we stand for".
She added that "we also have a duty to tell our partners when we are deeply convinced that they have taken the wrong path".