The liberal prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, took the stage during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg to attack his conservative Hungarian counterpart, PM Viktor Orbán, on Wednesday, April 19th, over a Hungarian child protection law viewed by the Left as discriminatory against persons identifying as LGBT.
“I’m ashamed to see that some of my colleagues want to win votes at the expense of minorities,” Bettel said in his emotional speech in the Parliament, which he gave on the occasion of the EP’s commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. The timing, therefore, made it obvious what he meant when he added that “this has already happened in our history.”
The Hungarian ‘Child Protection Act’ was adopted by the government in June 2021, and aimed to impose stricter measures to punish and disincentivize pedophilia. One of the provisions, however, also prohibits or heavily restricts the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality and gender transition in schools and media (without special parental consent), similar to another bill introduced by Governor DeSantis in Florida last year.
“If there’s anyone in this Parliament who thinks you become homosexual by watching TV, if there’s anyone who thinks you become homosexual by listening to a song, then you prove you have understood nothing,” continued Bettel, who, as one of Europe’s two openly gay leaders (the other being Ireland’s Leo Varadkar), has been among the loudest critics of the Hungarian law. “The most difficult [thing] for a homosexual is to accept himself,” he added.
“Mr. Prime Minister, it is always good to hear you speak of your found and assumed identity, and partly in this context, speak out against stigmatization,” replied Hungarian MEP Tamás Deutch in the parliament, after noting Hungary’s special respect for Bettel because of Luxembourg’s role in the founding of the EU. Deutch then continued:
I would ask you not to stigmatize those who have a different identity, a different conviction, a different faith, [or] a different political opinion from you.
I respectfully ask the Prime Minister not to classify, falsely claiming the Hungarian Child Protection Act as a homophobic law, because [it] is about one thing only: how to protect the inalienable right of parents to raise their children.
Put simply, the Hungarian government believes the law—which enjoys the widespread support of the population—is not discriminatory, since it does not affect homosexual or transgender adults, only the education of children. As Prime Minister Orbán explained the government’s position during an interview last year,
The issue is not about adults in relation to gender, but about children, about who is given authority in sex education: schools or parents … Children mustn’t be allowed to receive any kind of instruction related to sexual identity in kindergarten or school without the permission of their parents. That’s a red line!
As part of the wider rule of law dispute between Budapest and Brussels (which resulted in the Commission withholding billions of cohesion and COVID-19 recovery funds from Hungary), the Hungarian legislation generated an enormous backlash within Europe. As we reported two weeks ago, a total of fifteen member states chose to back the European Commission in its lawsuit against Hungary aimed to get the law repealed, including France and Germany, which joined the case at the very last minute.