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France and leaders of EU member countries declare support for LGBT rights

rfi– The leaders of more than half of EU member countries declared their support for defending LGBT rights in a letter to the heads of the bloc, after a controversial law passed in Hungary that bans LGBTQ educational content for children.

“Respect and tolerance are at the heart of the European project,” the leaders wrote in the letter addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.

The letter warned of “threats against fundamental rights and in particular the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation,” a reference to a law passed by the Hungarian parliament earlier in June that bans content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality.

Signed by French president Emmanuel Macron, as well as leaders of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, the letter,was released on Twitter by several leaders at the same time on Thursday.

East-west divide

Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, which promotes a Christian-conservative agenda, tacked on the proposal to a separate, widely-backed bill that strictly penalises paedophilia, making it harder for opponents to vote against it.

Fidesz lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the legislation, while leftist opposition parties boycotted the vote.

Debate over the law has divided EU countries largely along an east-west line.

More socially-conservative governments in eastern Europe have been unwilling to criticise the law and come out against Orban.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who sometime aligns with Orban on social issues, was not among the signatories, but his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel said on Twitter that Kurz “also joined us this morning with his signature”.

The issue will likely be raised during a summit working dinner in Brussels later on Thursday.

The European Commission announced Wednesday it will take action against Hungary over planned its restrictions on LGBT rights, saying they violate fundamental EU values.

Rainbow row

The issue was highlighted on Wednesday when UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, rejected a plan by Munich to light up its stadium in rainbow colours for a Germany-Hungary match on Wednesday.

  • Hungarian PM Orban cancels trip to see national team after rainbow lights row
  • EU lawmakers propose declaring Europe an LGBT ‘freedom zone’

Macron said UEFA’s decision was deeply regrettable.

Munich instead decorated many of its monuments with rainbows, including those next to the stadium.

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