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Reynders: Persons of differing sexual orientation suffer discrimination in Hungary

Persons of differing sexual orientation clearly suffer discrimination in Hungary, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said in Budapest on Friday.

Reynders said he was convinced that Hungarian regulations contradicted European Union principles of freedom, and added that he wanted to see an amendment to the relevant law.

Reynders has been in Hungary since Wednesday consulting representatives of parliament, government, judges and the civil sector concerning the findings of the EU 2021 rule-of-law report.

He noted the functioning of the judiciary, corruption, the situation of the media and checks and balances have been under review. The commission’s opinion has not changed significantly, he added.

Reynders insisted that various parliamentary groups and civilians had confirmed the statement of facts described in the EC report, adding that ways to improve the situation would be assessed.

Ensuring the independence of the public prosecutor’s office and the courts was highly important, he said.

The commissioner also criticised the “lack of transparency” in state advertising which, he said, had a major influence on the economic circumstances of media organisations. Also, the Media Council should be composed of a multiplicity of party representatives, he said.

Reynders said his report was an analysis of the situation and not a tool for introducing sanctions. The aim was open dialogue and assessing which areas of cooperation could be improved, he added.

At the same time, EU principles must be protected, he said. EU law has primacy in certain areas and the rulings of the European Court are binding, he added.

He said the EC was not in favour of identical systems in every member state, given different historical traditions. But certain basic principles must be guaranteed, including the independence of the judiciary enshrined in EU treaties, he added.

Reynders said he had listened to the opinions of “both sides” in Hungary. He added that he had met Justice Minister Judit Varga, as well as opposition representatives, including prime ministerial candidate Peter Marki-Zay and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony.

Recommendations will be submitted to Hungary, he said. He encouraged Hungary to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, adding, however, that this was not compulsory.

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