The dividing line between conservatives and progressives in Western Europe was once again highlighted by the European Parliament’s vote against Hungary’s child protection law on Thursday, July 8.
Members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), as well as Identity & Democracy (I&D) groups, both from Western Europe and former Eastern Bloc countries, voted overwhelmingly against the resolution calling for sanctions against Hungary. The progressive-liberal and Eurofederalist center, the left and the red-green extreme left voted overwhelmingly in favor of financial sanctions against Hungary in the name of LGBT rights.
In the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), on the other hand, a few MEPs, mainly from former Eastern Bloc countries, voted against, while a majority of French, Spanish and Italian MEPs chose to abstain. However, those center-right MPs seem to avoid speaking out too much on the subject.
According to the sources of Spanish newspaper El País, while nearly all (12 out of 13) Spanish PP MEPs abstained, this was not out of conservative convictions (which they actually do not hold). The reason for abstention was that they considered that “the request for the withdrawal of funds would harm the Hungarian population as a whole, not only its government, which would not be fair”, and, “that said, the PP is of course against any kind of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Given the PP’s policies in Spain, especially in regions where it can do without the support of the conservative Vox party, these explanations are extremely credible.
It is a bit the same with the French from the LR party, half of whom (4 out of 8) abstained. Despite numerous attempts to contact him by email and telephone, the most conservative of member of the party, François Xavier-Bellamy, did not wish to speak to Remix News about the motives behind his abstention or the Hungarian law itself, his parliamentary assistant claiming that his schedule was overloaded.
As for the Italians of Forza Italia (FI), also divided on societal issues between a more conservative fringe and the other clearly progressive-liberal part – as can be seen on the issue of the bill against “homotransphobia” currently being debated in Italy – they would in any case only be the junior partner of a future government of the right-wing bloc. Indeed, Matteo Salvini’s League and Georgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI), both of whom have spoken in favor of the Hungarian law and voted against the EP resolution, have a combined total of 40% of voting intentions in the polls, compared to less than 10% for Silvio Berlusconi’s party.
In any case, the vote on July 8 in the European Parliament shows that the Declaration on the Future of Europe signed on July 2 by fifteen parties from fourteen EU countries does reflect the composition of the conservative bloc in the EU. It is characteristic that the sixteenth party supposed to sign, only to withdraw its support at the last moment, is the Dutch liberal (but not Eurofederalist) party Ja21. Ja21’s leader refused ultimately refused to sign the conservative declaration precisely because of the Hungarian law protecting minors against LGBT propaganda.
Another important player should be added to the conservative bloc, however: the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which did not sign the Declaration on the Future of Europe because, unlike the signatory parties, the German conservative party has been officially in favor of leaving the EU since the publication of its electoral program in April, ahead of September parliamentary elections.
Asked by Remix News what he thinks of the new Hungarian law, MEP Maximilian Krah, who is the foreign policy spokesman for the AfD delegation to the EU Parliament, told us:
“The Hungarian law caused an outcry in the German mainstream even before having been translated into German. LGBTIQ and gender ideology is the new totalitarianism of the West, and the rainbow flag is its symbol. Only the AfD defended Hungary, first because it is a sovereign issue, and second because its approach is the right one. AfD Saxony will present its own version of the Hungarian law in the regional parliament. Once again, this debate shows that the current EU is creating an anti-Europe and there is an urgent need of consistent action by a united political and democratic Right to defend our civilization.”
French National Rally (RN) MEP Nicolas Bay, vice president of the I&D group in the European Parliament, told Remix News:
“This law is perfectly justified because it aims to protect children, first and foremost by increasing the penalties for pedophile crimes. The few provisions that have aroused the ire of the Left are just meant to limit the spread in the public sphere of sexualized content, which is increasingly present on television and in schools, and of the propaganda of some LGBT lobbies on transsexuality or gender ideology. The hysterical reactions in Brussels and on the part of certain Western leaders because of their supposedly homophobic character are fake news, and they are ill-founded: not only is education an exclusive competence of the member states, but above all Hungary has the right not to want to give in to some types of communitarianism, and it has the right to protect the innocence of children.”
Asked about the new Hungarian child protection law on the French public radio station France Inter on June 22, National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen said she was “totally opposed to any discrimination whatsoever” but still believed that “no sexuality should be promoted to minors.” “Let’s leave the minors alone,” she added.
Spanish Vox MEP Margarita de la Pisa, who was asked to give Remix News her opinion on the Hungarian law, said:
“This law aims to preserve the fundamental right of parents to educate their children towards a sexuality linked to affection, love, understanding the responsibility of gestures and respect for one’s own and others’ intimacy, consistent with a commitment to the deep bonds it generates, even capable of welcoming a new life and establishing a family. It is definitely a sexuality aligned with all the dimensions of the person: intellectual, physical, affective, social and transcendent. Such a vision should not offend anyone and should be respected.”
De la Pisa continued: “There are many of us parents who think that the way of transmitting sexuality, based on the criteria of gender ideology, can harm children because it is not in line with their development or maturity. A trivialization of this delicate and emotionally charged subject can push them towards situations for which they are not yet prepared. During childhood and adolescence, the identity of the person is developing and the influence exerted by adults must be very cautious so as not to condition the child’s freedom. Encouraging certain behaviors over others can lead them to confusion with irreversible consequences, especially if this goes with pharmacological treatments or surgical interventions.”
“In no treaty is it written that the European Commission has any kind of competence over education in Hungary,” said another leading Vox politician, Hermann Tertsch, in a video statement.
“On June 25, while guesting on the Sky TG24 event ‘Live in Firenze’, Brothers of Italy’s leader Giorgia Meloni defended the Hungarian law, too. Meloni said she had carefully and thoroughly read the law, and she wondered whether those who criticized the Hungarian prime minister for this law had done the same. “The law that is being talked about, which is certainly written in tones that I don’t like personally, is in fact a law that prohibits gender propaganda in schools, as done by associations that are not formally included in the Hungarian education system,” Meloni said. “That’s what the law says and that’s objectively a little different from how it’s been presented.”
“I read the Hungarian law and I believe that each country can decide what to teach in school. I don’t understand the interferences,” said the head of the League Matteo Salvini, adding that the law passed in Hungary “does not concern homosexuality,” but “the defense of the rights of children and parents.”