Belgium has joined the European Commission at the European Court of Justice in the case against Hungary’s child protection legislation, referred to as the “homophobic law” by the international media. The Belgian government believes the law discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, Belgium’s foreign ministry announced on Monday.
Hungary passed the June 2021 child protection law to broaden the scope for legal action against pedophile offenders, for example, by banning advertising that promotes sexuality for its own sake, promotes or displays a deviation from the identity of one’s sex at birth, or promotes gender reassignment or homosexuality for children and teens under the age of 18.
According to the Belgian government, the law is discriminatory and violates the right to freedom of expression. Belgium has spearheaded the fight against the law and has persuaded 17 other member states to adopt a joint declaration expressing concern about the measure, which it alleges discriminates against LGBTQI+ people.
“We see increasing pressure on the rights of the LGBTQI+ community in many countries, including in Europe. This became clear to us last week, including at a meeting with human rights NGOs. This is a worrying trend that must be reversed,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib in a press release. She also announced that her country will join the lawsuit filed against Hungary by the European Commission last December.
Hungary held a referendum on four questions related to the child protection law in April 2022, in tandem with the legislative elections. Although those who did vote were overwhelmingly supportive of the legislation, the number of valid votes did not reach the 50 percent threshold required.