The Community Executive also takes Budapest before the Court of Justice of the European Union for its refusal to renew the license of Klubradio, a radio station critical of the Government
The European Commission announced this Friday the decision to take Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for the law approved by the Government of Viktor Orbán that discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In a statement, the institution chaired by Ursula von der Leyen states that it considers that this law “violates (…) the fundamental rights of people – in particular, LGTBI people – and, in relation to these fundamental rights, the values of the EU”. The Hungarian law, approved in June last year, prohibits talking about sexual orientation in schools and the media. The Union’s executive arm also denounces Budapest for its refusal to renew the license of Klubradio, a station critical of the government.
“Hungarian law, in particular, singles out and prosecutes content that ‘promotes or represents’ what it calls ‘the divergence of one’s identity corresponding to birth sex, sex change or homosexuality’ for those under 18 years of age” , explained the Community Executive. The complaint is the final step in a process that began in the early summer of 2021 with several commissioners sending a letter to Budapest to express their doubts about its compatibility with European law, not only regarding its fundamental values but to others, such as the audiovisual services law.
After a year with the file open, the Hungarian authorities “have not sufficiently addressed the concerns of the Commission in relation to equality and the protection of fundamental rights” nor have they committed to any changes to remedy the incompatibilities of the law with the Community directives and did not include any commitment to remedy the incompatibility, according to the Commission.
Budapest has consistently justified its legislation as necessary for the protection of children, but Brussels considers that the law contains several provisions that are “not justified in terms of promoting this fundamental interest” or are “disproportionate to achieving the stated objective ”.
In particular, the Commission is of the opinion that the Hungarian law violates the Audiovisual Media Services Directives in terms of the free provision of cross-border audiovisual media services, the Electronic Commerce Directive, the principle of free provision of services, the right to protection of data or the directive on the transparency of the single market.
The Hungarian law “also systematically violates several fundamental rights”, such as the inviolability of human dignity, the right to freedom of expression and information, the right to private and family life, as well as the right to non-discrimination.
The Commission has also announced that it is taking Hungary to European justice for not renewing the broadcasting license of Klubradio, one of the stations most critical of the Government of Viktor Orbán, for what the Community Executive considers to be a violation of the directive Union on electronic communications, which provides that radio frequency rights are assigned in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory manner. “We address attacks on independent media through all the tools we have”, said the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova. Klubradio, whose guests often criticize government policies and can now only be heard online, has been off the air for more than a year.
The two demands add to a long list of increasingly bitter clashes between Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the EU’s liberal core over human rights and democratic norms.
The Community Executive has withheld billions in aid to Hungary for disputes related to homosexual rights, as well as the independence of its media and courts. On the other hand, this same Friday, the European Commission has initiated legal actions against Hungary for establishing discriminatory fuel prices against vehicles with foreign license plates.