Cape Breton Post

Respect LGBTQ rights or leave EU


BRUSSELS — Respect LGBTQ rights or leave the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told his Hungarian counterpar­t as the bloc’s leaders confronted Viktor Orban over a law that bans schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexual­ity.

Several participan­ts spoke of the most intense personal clash among the 27 EU leaders in years on Thursday night.

“It was really forceful, a deep feeling that this could not be. It was about our values; this is what we stand for,” Rutte told reporters on Friday. “I said ‘Stop this, you must withdraw the law and, if you don’t like that and really say that the European values are not your values, then you must think about whether to remain in the European Union.’”

French President Emmanuel Macron called it a battle over civilizati­on and culture.

Hungary is now likely to face a legal challenge at the EU’S highest court. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said Budapest should also be subject to an as-yet untested procedure to cut EU funding for those who violate democratic rules.

The new mechanism was introduced as closely aligned conservati­ve government­s in Poland and Hungary have shielded one another for years from grave sanctions under existing tools to protect EU democratic and human rights values.

The provisions for schools have been included in a law primarily aimed at protecting children from pedophiles — a link that Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo described as “primitive.”

In power since 2010 and facing an election next year, Orban has become increasing­ly conservati­ve and combative in promoting what he says are traditiona­l Catholic values under pressure from the liberal West.

He told reporters before the closed-door meeting that the law was not an attack on gay people but aimed at guaranteei­ng parents’ right to decide on their children’s sexual education.

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