EU Set to Take Hungary and Poland to Court Over Anti-LGBTQ Laws
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union will begin legal proceedings against Hungary and Poland for laws the bloc says discriminate against LGBTQ people as the EU steps up its fight against democratic backsliding.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, will send the so-called letters of formal notice as soon as Thursday, according to people familiar with the decision who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The move is one of the steps leading up to a suit at the European Court of Justice.
In a third proceeding, the commission will refer Hungary to the EU’s top court for unlawfully restricting access to the bloc’s asylum system, according to documents seen by Bloomberg. A commission spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.
Hungary and Poland are already in the middle of disputes with the EU, which could see both countries miss out on funds from the bloc. The commission has a new power this year that allows it to withhold budget payments if rule-of-law violations are deemed to undermine the EU’s financial interests.
Separately, the commission also withheld this week approval of Hungary’s recovery plan, which is needed to unlock the 7.2 billion euros ($8.5 billion) of grants allotted to Budapest’s recovery effort. And if the EU uses its new conditionality mechanism against Poland, then Warsaw stands to miss out on as much as 23.9 billion euros of recovery grants.
The latest clash with Hungary concerns a law the government says is aimed at protecting children against pedophilia, but which critics say discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation. The legal basis for the action will in part be the EU’s audiovisual and e-commerce directive.
The action against Poland is related to towns and provinces in the country that have declared themselves “free of LGBTQ ideology” to prevent pride parades and other gay-friendly events. As of the middle of last year, almost a third of municipalities in the Catholic country of 38 million people had adopted the declaration, often after lobbying from ultra-conservative groups.
The commission believes that both Hungary and Poland have breached the EU’s founding values and fundamental principles.
The letters from the commission would formally initiate an EU infringement procedure, giving the nations the right to respond to the concerns and correct the issue. The next step would be a court case, if the commission decides the required changes haven’t been made.
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