EU sues Hungary and Poland for LGBT discrimination as legal fight escalates.

The European Commission has begun legal proceedings against Hungary and Poland for discrimination against LGBT+ people in an escalating rule of law fight with the union’s wayward members.

The move in response to a recent anti-LGBT law in Hungary and so-called “LGBT-free zones” in Poland intensifies a row over whether domestic or EU law rules supreme and a growing standoff over whether Brussels should withhold funds from Budapest and Warsaw.

Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised: be it because of whom they love, because of their age, their ethnicity, their political opinions, or their religious beliefs,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

In a letter of formal notice to the Hungarian government, the commission accused it of breaking a number of EU rules with a law banning the “promotion” or depiction of homosexuality or transgender people in any content intended for under-18s – a law that triggered outrage among fellow EU states last month as rights groups warned it would marginalise gay people and prevent sex education.

In addition, the letter warns of an additional breach of EU law by a consumer authority that forced the publisher of a children’s book about a same-sex family to include a disclaimer saying it depicts “behaviour deviating from traditional gender roles”.

“By imposing an obligation to provide information concerning a divergence from ‘traditional gender roles’, Hungary restricts the freedom of expression of authors and book publishers, and discriminates on grounds of sexual orientation,” the commission said.

LGBT-free zones

Separately, the commission notified the Polish government that it had breached the “principle of sincere co-operation” with EU institutions, set out in the treaties, by failing to respond to requests regarding the establishment of a so-called “LGBT-ideology-free zone” by local Polish authorities.

The commission said it was “concerned that these declarations may violate EU law regarding non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation”.

The letters open a new front in a sprawling fight over the rule of law, adding to ongoing proceedings against both states over the rigging of the judiciary in Poland, and attacks on democratic institutions in Hungary.

But the Polish government has said it rejects the authority of the EU’s top court to rule on domestic matters all together, a position that goes against a basic principle of EU membership that ensures legal coherence across the union.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted on Thursday that the EU court had no authority to shape member states’ judicial systems, after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Poland was failing its obligations under EU law through reforms that set up a new disciplinary chamber for judges at the supreme court and ordinary courts.

Justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, a key architect of Poland’s judicial reforms, dismissed the ruling as “delivered at the behest of the European Commission”, and said it “smacks of colonial thinking”.

Judicial reforms

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party defends its reforms as an overdue effort to rid the judicial system of lingering communist baggage and streamline the courts, but many judges, opposition parties and civil rights groups say they create a politically beholden judiciary by appointing loyalists to courts and creating a regime of fear for non-aligned judges.

Pre-empting the CJEU ruling, the constitutional court in Warsaw ruled on Wednesday that the government’s priority was to the Polish constitution and it was not bound by all international treaties to which it was party, including the EU accession treaty of 2004.

Former prime minister Donald Tusk, who has returned to opposition politics in Poland after several years in top European roles, said the row has raised questions about his country’s future in the EU.

“It’s not Poland that wants to leave the EU, but PiS,” he said.

The developments add to rising pressure from some member states and the European Parliament to withhold EU funds from states that reject the rules of membership. This week, the commission has delayed signing off on a package of Covid-19 stimulus money for Hungary due to concerns over a lack of safeguards against corruption – seen as a sign of further standoffs to come.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Biden DOJ drops charges against five Chinese spies

Biden DOJ drops charges against five Chinese spies

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Biden’s foreign policy and relations with China. #FoxNews #SundayMorningFutures Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news...

UNESCO Leaves Australia's Great Barrier Reef Off Endangered List.

UNESCO Leaves Australia's Great Barrier Reef Off Endangered List.

Environmentalists call move a ‘terrible’ decision driven by politics, not science

Cuba: Fears over missing demonstrators in Havana

Cuba: Fears over missing demonstrators in Havana

In recent weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets of Havana in the largest and most significant anti-government demonstrations in decades. Cubans are protesting about food shortages and high prices, as well as the handling of the COVI...

Tokyo Olympics: Mixed emotions as Bradly Sinden takes silver.

Tokyo Olympics: Mixed emotions as Bradly Sinden takes silver.

Team GB's Bradly Sinden has taken a silver medal after losing in the men's 68kg taekwondo final. The 22-year old from Doncaster was in the lead until the dying seconds. But his personal disappointment has not been felt by the people in his hometow...

Lawmakers sponsor bill to ‘free’ Britney and others from conservatorships.

Lawmakers sponsor bill to ‘free’ Britney and others from conservatorships.

Rep. Nancy Mace, S.C., talks about sponsoring the ‘FREE Act,’ which seeks to protect the rights of 1.3 million Americans under conservatorship, including pop star Britney Spears. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox...

Two medals for Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics

Two medals for Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics

Team GB's Bradly Sinden has picked up a silver medal in the men's Taekwondo and Chelsie Giles secured bronze in the women's Judo. Sky News videos are now available in Spanish here/Los video de Sky News están disponibles en español aquí SUBSCRIBE t...