Luxembourg gay PM blasts 'stigmatizing' new Hungarian law

·2 min read
EU leaders summit in Brussels

By Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg's gay Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban on Thursday that Budapest was being discriminatory and stigmatizing with its new law banning from schools materials deemed to promote homosexuality.

Despite criticism from rights groups and political opposition in Hungary, Orban said on Thursday ahead of talks with his EU peers in Brussels that the new bill, which bans the distribution in schools of material seen as promoting homosexuality or gender change, was already enacted.

Bettel, who is an advocate of gay rights and sometimes travels with his husband to official state visits, said he would challenge Orban over the contentious law during their meeting.

"To be nationally blamed, to be considered as not normal, to be considered as a danger for young people - it's not realising that being gay is not a choice," Bettel said.

"But being intolerant is a choice. I would stay intolerant to intolerance and this would be today my fight... I am going to tell him that what he is doing in his country is intolerant and that being gay is not a choice."

The EU is pushing Orban to revoke the law and threatened legal action against Budapest for violating fundamental democratic rules. Bettel recounted his own experience coming to terms with his sexuality.

"The most difficult thing for me was to accept myself when I realised that I was in love with a person of my sex, was how to say to my parents, how to say to my family," he said, stressing that young homosexuals are prone to suicide if they fail to embrace who they are, come out and live their lives.

Conflating homosexuality with paedophilia or pornography was wrong, as was stigmatizing people, he said, adding tongue-in-cheek that himself being gay did not pose any danger to anyone.

"I didn't get up one morning after having seen an advert on the TV of some brand... That's not how life works. It's in me, I didn't choose it. And to accept oneself is hard enough, so to be stigmatised too that's too much."

Bettel also took a jibe at Orban in reminding of Jozsef Szajer, who used to be a prominent voice of Hungary's ruling Fidesz party in the European Parliament and played an instrumental role in rewriting Hungary's constitution in a more conservative vein.

But he resigned last December over attending in Brussels a gay sex party, which got busted for violating COVID-19 restrictions and which Szajer tried to escape by clambering down a gutter before being caught by the police.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by David Gregorio)

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