Hungary's anti-LGBT+ law slammed as an 'affront to human rights'

Thursday, 17 June 2021 19:01 GMT

Silhouettes of demonstrators are seen as they march around the Hungarian parliament to protest against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the latest anti-LGBTQ law in Budapest, Hungary, June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Marton Monus

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Nick Herbert, Britain's first Special Envoy on LGBT Rights, said he will join the EU in fighting the law

By Hugo Greenhalgh

LONDON, June 17 (Openly) - Hungary's ban on school talks about sexuality or transgender issues is "an affront to human rights", Britain's first Special Envoy on LGBT Rights said on Thursday, saying he would join the European Union (EU) in fighting the new law.

The EU has criticised the law, passed on Tuesday, outlawing the dissemination in schools of content deemed to "promote homosexuality and gender change", with Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli raising the possibility of sanctions.

"This kind of law is obviously completely unacceptable," Nick Herbert, who was the first Conservative Party lawmaker to be openly gay when elected in 2005, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call.

"It's an affront to human rights (and) it's very concerning that European countries should be going backwards like this," said Herbert, who stood down from parliament in 2019.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that she was "very concerned" about the new law and was assessing whether it breached "relevant EU legislation".

Herbert, 58, said he could not speak for ministers as to whether Britain was considering sanctions, but said he intended to "look at any proposal" by the government in response to Hungary's move.

Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has grown increasingly radical on social policy ahead of an election next year, railing against LGBT+ people and immigrants.

Herbert said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed LGBT+ rights with Orban when they met in London last month.

"It's already been raised at a high level and we will continue to press this issue working with our allies," said Herbert, who previously served as a minister at the Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

Herbert was appointed as Special Envoy on LGBT Rights last month and will next year lead Britain's first global LGBT+ conference, aimed at promoting legal reform and tackling violence and discrimination.

"(Johnson) is clearly sending a signal of his own concern for these issues and the progress he wants to see," said Herbert, who was an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage before it was legalised in Britain in 2013.

The government has faced criticism for a delay in banning so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, and for not simplifying the procedure for changing gender on legal documents.

"It's true that the government decided not to proceed with self-certification for trans people, but we do want to make the process of transition easier," Herbert said.

Related stories:

EU assessing whether Hungarian anti-LGBT law breaches bloc's laws

EXCLUSIVE-Hungary could be sanctioned over anti-LGBT+ law, warns EU equality chief

OPINION: The UK is committed to tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

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