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EU launches legal actions against Hungary and Poland for violating fundamental LGBTI+ rights

On 15 July 2021, the European Commission announced that it would launch landmark infringement procedures against Hungary and Poland in relation to equality and the protection of fundamental rights.


"Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised: whether because of who they love, their age, their ethnicity, their political views or their religious beliefs." - Ursula von der Leyen,

President of the European Commission (CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 - Source: EP)


Equality and respect for dignity and human rights are fundamental values of the EU, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The Commission will use all the instruments at its disposal to defend these values.



Brussels is expected to launch two infringement procedures against Hungary:


- The first procedure is that Hungary's anti-LGBTI law, which bans the dissemination of information in schools about different sexual behaviour and the discussion of gender reassignment among minors, violates the right to freedom of expression as well as the provisions of two European directives. According to the European Commission, the law also violates the freedom to provide services and the free movement of goods.

- The second procedure is due to the decision of the Hungarian consumer protection authority, which requires children's books presenting "behaviour deviating from traditional gender roles" to be labelled with a special warning sticker. Thus, a week ago, the book publisher Labrisz Lesbian Association was fined for the lack of such a warning on a children's book. This, the Commission claims, violates the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.


Regarding Poland:


The deteriorating situation of the law and the treatment of the LGBTI community are the reasons why the Commission has launched a criminal procedure against Poland. Since 2019, there have been over 100 "LGBT-free zones" declared in Poland, where local municipalities should refrain from promoting tolerance towards LGBTI people and calling for the withdrawal of financial support from organisations promoting non-discrimination and equality. The zones are part of widespread discrimination, attacks and hate speech against LGBTI people coming from public authorities, the current president and pro-government media.


In an effort to counter Poland's anti-LGBTI policies, the European Parliament declared the EU a "LGBTI Freedom Zone" at the beginning of March this year... Although rather wishful thinking for member states, the resolution expresses the strong position of the majority of MEPs that they will fight to defend the rights of LGBTI people in Europe.


What will follow from here?


With the sending of the letters, the Commission has formally launched infringement proceedings against the two Member States. They have two months to respond to the arguments presented by the Commission and bring their laws into line with the EU framework. Otherwise, the Commission will (hopefully) push for further sanctions before the EU Court of Justice. These could be financial sanctions up to and including the loss of Poland's and Hungary's voting rights in the Council.



Since 2014 LGBT Youth Action has been providing free counselling and legal assistance to people from the LGBTI community for violations of their rights. Contact us through pravo.deystvie.org.

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