The prime minister’s chief of staff on Wednesday commented on opposition politicians’ call on the European Parliament to withhold Hungary’s EU funding until its controversial law against paedophilia, which the EU says is discriminating against LGBTQ people, is amended. Gergely Gulyás told a press briefing such a step was “impossible if the rule of law still has any weight in the EU”. EU funding can be withheld only if they are used irregularly, he said. Last year, the Hungarian government had successfully achieved an agreement precisely to avoid such a step based on politically motivated accusations which are not connected to the EU budget, he said. “Blackmail is not a tool the European Commission would stoop to use,” Gulyás said, referring to proposals to tie Hungary’s recovery funding to an amendment of the contested law. Differences can be resolved “by the usual legal route”, and Hungary has always complied with EU rulings, he said.
Regarding the statements of Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s vice-president in charge of transparency and values, who had said the Hungarian law discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and went against the EU’s fundamental values, Gulyás said the Hungarian government considered the commissioner “persona non grata”, and “not the person the issue should be discussed with”. Gulyás noted that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had not taken part in the EP debate because “this was an inconsequential debate was about a law where the EP resolution has no weight whatsoever. The [Hungarian] government meeting was more meaningful and more important.”
“Orbán was the politician to do most against homophobia [in Europe] when he closed Hungary’s southern border against migrants,” he said. Hungary rejects the whole debate which is trying to address the law as one harming basic human rights rather than as a child protection measure, Gulyás said. The government is open to an objective debate in the matter but rejects the EP’s decision to put a politician “who has been sentenced in a binding ruling for gay revenge porn offences” in charge of the case, he said, referring to reports that Maltese MEP Cyrus Engerer, who has been tasked with drafting a resolution on the law, was found guilty in 2014 of circulating pornographic recordings of his former partner online without his consent. Putting the MEP in question in charge of the resolution on the law “highlights the civilisational gap between the EP’s left-wing majority and the Hungarian government”, Gulyás said. A registry of paedophile offenders is expected to be ready within a few weeks, Gulyás said.