The Hungarian law banning the "promotion" of homosexuality among minors was the target of condemnation by European ministers gathered in Luxembourg, who called on the European Commission to act.
The law, adopted last week on the initiative of Viktor Orban's party, is "unworthy of Europe", Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn said on arriving at the meeting in Luxembourg.
"People have the right to live as they wish, we are no longer in the Middle Ages," he added. He called on the European Commission to act, saying that Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands had drafted a declaration to this effect.
The Hungarian law "clearly violates the values of the EU," added Germany's Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, saying his country is joining the Benelux initiative. Paris also supports this declaration, diplomatic sources said.
The same goes for Ireland, whose Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said he was "very concerned" by the adoption of legislation that constitutes a "very dangerous moment for Hungary and for the Union".
In total, thirteen of the EU's 27 member states on Tuesday voiced their "grave concern" at the law, which they said discriminates against LGBTQ people while claiming to protect children.
"Stigmatising LGBTIQ persons constitute a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, as provided for in the EU Charter and international law," they said in a joint statement.
The law, adopted on 15 June, states that "pornography and content that depicts sexuality or promotes gender deviation, sex reassignment, and homosexuality must not be accessible to under-18s".
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen expressed concern last week, adding that the EU executive was examining whether the law "violates EU law". The Commission has the power to initiate infringement proceedings for violations of EU law against a country, which could lead to a referral to the European Court of Justice.
These accusations were rejected in Luxembourg on Tuesday by Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó, who denounced "fake news" and said the law "was not directed against any community in Hungary (but) only against paedophiles".
"This law says nothing about the sexual orientation of adults. It only says that as long as children are under 18, their sexual education is the exclusive responsibility of their parents, that's all," he said, adding that the law was subject to "a national authority that should not be questioned".
The previous day, Szijjártó had described the proposal by the city of Munich to light up its stadium in the rainbow colours of the LGBTQIA+ community for the Euro match between Germany and Hungary on Wednesday as "dangerous". The proposal was finally rejected by UEFA.
"Deserves to be condemned"
In the joint statement released Tuesday, the thirteen EU countries said he law "deserves to be condemned," adding: "Inclusion, human dignity and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles."
The European Commission, as the guardian of the EU treaties, should "use all the tools at its disposal to ensure full respect for EU law, including by referring the matter to the ECJ (European Court of Justice)," the EU countries urged.
The signatories to the text were Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Belgium's Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said her country took the lead on the declaration because "the new Hungarian legislation undermines the fundamental values of the Europe we stand for".
She added that "we also have a duty to tell our partners when we are deeply convinced that they have taken the wrong path".