An anti-LGBT law in Hungary and the country’s refusal to renew the license of Klubradio, a broadcaster critical of the government, prompted the European Commission to sue Budapest on Friday.
The two lawsuits add fuel to fire of increasingly bitter standoffs between Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the predominantly leftist EU over human rights and democratic standards.
“The European Commission today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the EU over a Hungarian law which discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” said the EU’s executive. It also sent a second lawsuit to the Luxembourg-based court over Budapest rejecting Klubradio’s airwaves application.
“We address attacks to independent media via all the tools that we have,” said European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova.
It was over a year ago that Klubradio, notorious for having guests sceptical of the Hungarian government policies, was forced off air and into online broadcasting.
At that time, a government spokesman said that there was no issue with media freedom in Hungary and that it was not true that the government had shut the station down.
The ban on materials promoting homosexuality and gender change
The second case refers to a law Hungary enacted last year banning the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change in schools.
Orban, presenting himself as a defender of traditional family and Catholic values, and his government were criticised by human rights groups and international watchdogs as discriminating against LGBT people and labelled a “disgrace” by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Billions in aid for Hungary were withheld by the EU executive over disputes related to gay rights, as well as the independence of its media and courts.
Also on Friday, Brussels started legal action against Hungary for discriminatory fuel pricing against vehicles with foreign licence plates.
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