Brussels has targeted Budapest for alleged discrimination and violation of freedom of expression
The European Commission has taken Hungary to the Court of Justice for alleged violations of LGBT rights and freedom of expression. This decision was announced on Friday as part of the Commission’s regular publication of infringement decisions.
Budapest has come under fire for its controversial Child Protection Act, a law originally designed to tackle pedophilia and generally protect the welfare of children. The law was amended last year to prohibit the display of gay or gender-changing content in under-18 education programs or in media that reaches minors.
While the amendment was harshly criticized by several rights groups as discriminatory, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party insisted it was necessary to protect children from paedophilia.
“The protection of children is a top priority for the EU and its Member States. However, Hungarian law contains provisions which are not justified on the basis of the promotion of this fundamental interest or which are disproportionate to achieve the stated objective”, the Commission said in a statement, saying the legislation breached several EU rules.
While Brussels had previously raised concerns about the law in Budapest, the latter failed to act, the Commission noted. Now he is taking Hungary to court over his legislation that would have “discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity”.
The Commission also sued Budapest on a separate matter, related to an alleged violation of freedom of expression. The case stems from a decision by the Hungarian Media Council to reject the request of a local radio station called Klubradio to use a radio frequency after its license expired.
The liberal-leaning station was denied a license due to multiple alleged breaches of the country’s media laws at the end of 2020 and has only broadcast online since then. The decision was made on “very questionable motives” according to the Commission, and allegedly targeted the radio station in a “Disproportionate and discriminatory” fashion.
Hungary, which has had repeated run-ins with Brussels over alleged free speech and rule of law issues, has also been targeted in the new offenses package for water quality issues. The Commission has asked Budapest to apply EU drinking water rules and to ensure that tap water is “healthy and clean.” Hungary “now has two months to react and take the necessary measures”, or could face another legal case, the Commission warned.
Brussels has also launched infringement proceedings against Hungary over its decision to charge cars with foreign license plates more for fuel. The movement is in violation of the “internal market provisions” Brussels backed, threatening consequences if the situation was not resolved.
“Acting unilaterally at national level and introducing discriminatory treatment goes against the principles of free movement in the single market and cannot constitute a solution”, the Commission warned.
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