The legal case against Hungary’s anti-LGBTIQ+ law

A shift in the protection of the fundamental rights of the European Union

By Thierry Chopin, special advisor at the Jacques Delors Institute, Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges) & Emmanuel Leclerc, diplomat (This paper is an expression of the authors’ personal opinions.)

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Chopin T. & Leclerc E. 2023. “The legal case against Hungary’s anti-LGBTIQ+ law”, Policy Brief, Paris : Institut Jacques Delors, October.

In an unprecedented move, fifteen Member States and the European Parliament have asked to intervene in support of the European Commission in an action against a Member State. While this exceptional advocacy is mostly due to the priority given by these States and this institution in 2023 to protect LGBTIQ+ persons from discrimination, it also reflects several developments in the European Union’s attachment to ensuring compliance with its values and fundamental rights.

Politically, a more Community-based and committed approach is increasingly gaining ground over a more cautious intergovernmental approach, so much so that a breach of these values by a Member State has become a shared concern for all Member States. From a legal standpoint, the normative power specific to the Union’s fundamental rights and values is growing, which in turn reinforces the role of the Court of Justice and of the Commission.

Against this backdrop, it is in the EU’s interest to clarify its stance on its fundamental rights and values, highlighting the compatibility between full compliance with these “values”, defined as key legal principles, and these rights on the one hand; and the diversity of cultural and societal models in its Member States on the other hand. These are two complementary conditions for its unity, all the more so given the context of future enlargements.