Thank you. The rights of LGBTQI+ people are essential human rights and Ireland strongly advocates for their promotion and protection throughout the world, including in our relations with Hungary and Poland.
On 15 June, the Hungarian National Assembly passed a bill with the official title "Stricter measures against paedophile criminals and on amending legislation related to the protection of children". While ostensibly a child protection law, amendments added to the bill’s original text mean this proposed legislation provides for measures with disquieting and far-reaching negative implications for Hungary's LGBTQI+ community. The new law provides for restrictions on LGBTQI+ representation in media. There is also a de facto prohibition on talks on LGBTQI+ issues in schools and educational programmes. This means that only organisations approved by the minister of education will be able to provide such talks and school principals and teachers would need to secure special permission to undertake such lessons.
Such legislation has no place in the EU. It will lead to further marginalisation and stigmatisation of the LGBTQI+ community. Under Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, the EU is founded on shared values, including human dignity, freedom, equality and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. This law is fundamentally at odds with these values and I urge the Hungarian Government to reconsider the decision to introduce this bill. At my meeting last month with the Hungarian foreign minister, I highlighted the importance of the EU demonstrating tolerance.
The Government has publicly expressed its deep concerns regarding the anti-LGBTQI+ aspects of this new law. At the most recent meeting of the General Affairs Council on 22 June, there was an Article 7 hearing on Hungary’s adherence to the EU values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. Ireland actively participated in this hearing and the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, firmly articulated Ireland's views on this issue as well as on issues related to the rule of law in Hungary. Ireland also supported a joint statement at the Council by the Benelux foreign ministers, which expressed grave concern at the law and its capacity to further stigmatise and endanger the safety of the LGBTQI+ community in Hungary.
The embassy of Ireland in Hungary has actively supported statements of concern made locally by like-minded partners and has registered deep concern about this law and its implications for equality and human rights. The embassy is also co-ordinating this year’s statement by embassies in Hungary supporting the Budapest Pride parade, which takes place on 24 July.
We also regularly raise our concerns on this issue with the Polish authorities. In particular, I have written to my Polish counterpart to set out the concerns that have been expressed by Irish people and by the large Polish community living in Ireland. I also underlined the shared commitments of Ireland and Poland to equality and non-discrimination as EU member states.
The embassy of Ireland in Warsaw undertakes a number of initiatives to demonstrate support for the LGBTQI+ community in Poland, including participating in the Warsaw Pride parade and actively engaging with civil society groups in Poland supporting the community. The ambassador also signs an annual open letter of support for efforts to raise public awareness of the issues affecting the LGBTQI+ community in Poland.
As I said at the outset, the rights of LGBTQI+ people are human rights. It is imperative that all member states continue to respect the values to which we have all signed up. Ireland will continue to work with our EU partners and others to constructively engage with Hungary and Poland on these important issues.