Daniela Schwarzer, on Hungary's law banning LGBTQI+ references for minors

This law is just the latest move in Orban’s eleven-year reign to scapegoat and stigmatise minorities and other vulnerable groups, from the Roma to migrants and now the LBGTQI community, writes Daniela Schwarzer, executive director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations.

I welcome that Ursula von der Leyen and other EU leaders have condemned the law, but the trampling on the foundational values of the EU is a more systemic problem.

EU leaders must say it loud and clear: respecting fundamental values and the rights of all is the price of EU membership. If Hungary does not want to play by these rules, then it must accept that benefits of membership – funding, a voice in decision-making – can be revoked. And they need to set out a tough timetable for reform on all these fronts.

If Hungary fails to act, European leaders have options: they should vote to confirm that breaches of the rule of law and fundamental rights have taken place, paving the way for Hungary to be stripped of its voting rights in Council. They could also suspend EU funding where Orban's attacks on liberal checks and balances pose a risk to the EU budget. EU leaders have found clear words, but it is time to move from words to actions.

Daniela Schwarzer is a renowned expert in European affairs and international relations. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, she served as Director and CEO of the German Council on Foreign Relations, where she steered the organisation’s strategic repositioning and modernisation and advised the EU Commission and national governments on European affairs.

She is an honorary professor of political science at Freie Universität Berlin and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.

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