BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday accused European leaders of acting like “colonialists” in their criticism of a controversial law that’s seen as limiting the rights of LGBT people in that country.
European Union leaders challenged Orban on the law at a summit in Brussels last week, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte suggesting that the Hungarian leader should either uphold EU values or pull out of the 27-member bloc.
Speaking on public radio, Orban defied calls to repeal the law which prohibits the “display or promotion” of homosexuality or gender reassignment in television shows, films and sexual education programs to kids in schools.
“They behave like colonialists,” Orban said of his EU critics. “They want to dictate what laws should take effect in another country, they want to tell us how to live our lives and how to behave.” He added that the criticism was a result of “bad reflexes caused by their European colonialist past.”
Hungary’s right-wing government – which faces elections next year – insists the law is necessary to ensure that the sexual education of children under 18 is the sole domain of parents.
But LGBT advocacy groups and high-ranking politicians in Europe have slammed the legislation, arguing it stigmatizes sexual minorities and seeks to stifle discourse on sexual orientation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week called the law “a shame,” and sent a letter to Hungary demanding a clarification of its impact on fundamental rights.
The heads of 17 EU countries signed a joint letter condemning the legislation, and urged the European Commission to take Hungary before the European Court of Justice over the matter.