The Irish Times view on anti-LGBTI+ laws: standing in solidarity

With Hungary’s hateful new legislation, a red line has been crossed – the EU must now move quickly against Viktor Orban

Participants march during the Warsaw Gay Pride parade in central Warsaw last weekend. Photograph: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP via Getty Images

Participants march during the Warsaw Gay Pride parade in central Warsaw last weekend. Photograph: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP via Getty Images

 

Pride events are taking place across Ireland and the world after a week that brought grim reminders that the struggle for equality for the LGBTI+ community remains as vital as ever. At a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, prime ministers and presidents rounded on Hungary’s Viktor Orban, angrily denouncing the passage of a disgraceful law that bans the portrayal of gay people in content for under-18s and links being gay or trans with paedophilia. The law is consistent with Orban’s tactic of targeting minorities to shore up his electoral base – the far-right demagogue is facing an election next year and is under pressure from the opposition – and mimics an infamous Russian law on “gay propaganda”.

The EU has been growing ever more alarmed by the authoritarian drift in Hungary under Orban, whose government has restricted NGOs, curtailed media and academic freedoms, demonised migrants and asserted political control over the judiciary. But inadequate tools for sanctioning states that breach core EU values combined with the failure to secure unanimous support for any such action – Poland, and on occasion Slovenia, have stood in shameful solidarity with Budapest – have impeded collective action. With Hungary’s hateful anti-LGBTI+ law, however, a red line has been crossed. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is reported to have asked Orban why he wanted to remain part of the EU and suggested that Hungary leave the union entirely. Orban stands against almost everything the EU stands for, but he has no incentive to leave; on the contrary, the flow of EU cash helps keep Orban in power. It’s beyond time that such funding be withheld.

The Hungarian law has been rightly condemned across the political spectrum in Ireland, where huge strides have been made in recent years in creating a more equal and inclusive society. Having decriminalised homosexuality only in 1993, landmark legal reforms in the intervening period, including marriage equality and gender recognition laws, have made the country a leader on LGBTI+ rights. But the danger of complacency is very real. Tackling prejudice remains a work in progress. In the past two weeks alone, rainbow flags have been burned in Waterford and a wall near a well-known Dublin gay was daubed with a homophobic slur. Children encounter anti-gay bullying, and LGBTI+ people are at significantly higher risk of experiencing mental distress. Some parts of that community – such as people of colour, Travellers and asylum seekers – face additional obstacles.

Pride is a celebration – of difference, of individuality, of love itself. After the trauma of the past year, that sense of communal joy, even in virtual form, is important. But Pride is also a civil rights movement – one with radical roots and a set of goals that have yet to be fully achieved.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.