Violations of democratic norms by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are nothing new, but the explosion of anger in Europe against the anti-LGBTQ law just approved by the Hungarian parliament, dominated by Orban’s Fidesz Party, suggests Orban has crossed a critical red line.
At last week’s European Union summit, no topic garnered more attention, or more fury, than the new law. If descriptions of what went on behind the scenes are accurate, Orban was berated with an uncommon degree of emotional intensity. Leaders of countries from across the EU lambasted Hungary’s self-described proponent of “illiberal democracy” in starkly personal terms—tears were even reportedly shed—a sign that this issue resonates in ways that surpass the many other subjects over which Hungary and its EU partners have been at odds.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who apparently led the charge, said he bluntly told Orban that if he doesn’t like Europe’s position on gay rights, perhaps he should leave the EU.