The European Commission has launched legal action against Hungary over an anti-LGBTQ law and its refusal to renew the licence of Klubradio, a broadcaster critical of the government.
Friday’s two lawsuits add to a long list of increasingly bitter standoffs between Hungary’s hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the liberal core of the 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.
Klubradio, whose guests often criticise government policies and which now only broadcasts online, was forced off air more than a year ago.
A government spokesman said at that time 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 other case relates to a law Hungary enacted last year banning the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change in schools.
Touted as protecting children by the government of Orban, who presents himself as a defender of traditional Catholic family values, it was criticised by human rights groups and international watchdogs as discriminating against LGBTQ people and labelled a “disgrace” by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Gay marriage is not recognised in Hungary and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children. Orban’s government has redefined marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the constitution, and limited gay adoption.
The EU executive has withheld billions in aid to Hungary over disputes related to gay rights, as well as the independence of its media and courts.
Separately on Friday, the Brussels-based EU executive started legal action against Hungary for discriminatory fuel pricing against vehicles with foreign licence plates.