Hungary PM calls EU action on LGBT rights 'legalised hooliganism'

BUDAPEST, July 16 (Reuters) - Hungary's Prime Minister on Friday accused the European Commission of "legalised hooliganism" for an infringement action against measures by his government that the EU executive said discriminated against LGBT people.

Thursday's action against Hungary related to a new law that bans schools from using materials deemed as promoting homosexuality or gender change, which Orban has described as a child-protection issue.

Stepping up a war of words with Brussels, Orban told state radio on Friday: "This (EU infringement action) is legalised hooliganism... The European Commission's stance is shameful."

He said the debate offered Hungarians a glimpse into "European life", into what went on in schools in Germany, reiterating that Hungary would not let LGBT activists "march up and down" in schools promoting what he called sexual propaganda.

Rights groups have rallied against the legislation, which Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has called a disgrace.

The infringement action has also targeted Poland after some municipalities there declared themselves "LGBT-ideology free zones".

It marks the latest in a series of clashes between Brussels and some of the EU's newer eastern European members over a range of core issues also including the rule of law, migration and press freedoms. read more

Orban, a nationalist who has repeatedly crossed swords with Brussels since he took office in 2010, said EU authorities were trying to impose their will on Hungary over how children should be raised.

The anti-LGBT campaign, which his government has stepped up over the past year, looks likely to feature prominently on his political platform ahead of a potentially tough national election next year.

In the past two weeks, huge blue billboards have been erected nationwide bearing slogan such as: "Have you been annoyed with Brussels?" and "Are you afraid your children will face sexual propaganda?"

Orban on Friday also predicted another clash over EU recovery funds, which have been withheld by Brussels but which he said Hungary would eventually get.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by John Stonestreet

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