Hungary’s ban on school talks on sexuality or transgender issues is “an affront to human rights,” Britain’s first special envoy for LGBT rights said on Thursday, saying he would join the European Union (EU ) to fight against the new law.
The EU criticized the law, adopted on Tuesday, banning the distribution in schools of content deemed to “promote homosexuality and gender change”, with Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli citing the possibility of sanctions.
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“This kind of law is obviously totally unacceptable,” Nick Herbert, who was the first openly gay Conservative lawmaker when he was elected in 2005, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call.
“It is an affront to human rights (and) it is very worrying that European countries are backing down like this,” said Herbert, who resigned from parliament in 2019.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday she was “very concerned” about the new law and was assessing whether it violated “relevant European legislation”.
Herbert, 58, said he could not speak for ministers on whether Britain was considering sanctions, but said he intended to “consider any proposal” from the government in response to the decision of Hungary.
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Hungarian Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has become increasingly radical on social policy ahead of next year’s elections, denouncing LGBT + people and immigrants.
Herbert said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed LGBT + rights with Orban when they met in London last month.
“This has already been raised at a high level and we will continue to push this issue while working with our allies,” said Herbert, who previously served as a minister at the Home Office and the Justice Department.
Herbert was appointed Special Envoy for LGBT Rights last month and will lead Britain’s first LGBT + Global Conference next year, aimed at promoting legal reform and tackling violence and discrimination.
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“(Johnson) is clearly sending a signal of his own concern for these issues and the progress he wants to see,” said Herbert, who was a strong advocate for same-sex marriage before it was legalized in Britain in 2013.
The government has been criticized for the delay in banning so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and for failing to simplify the change process sex on legal documents.
“It is true that the government has decided not to self-certify for trans people, but we want to ease the transition process,” said Herbert.