Hungarian PM Orban cancels trip to see national team after rainbow lights row

·2-min read

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban,on Wednesday called off a voyage to Munich to watch his country’s must-win Euro 2020 football match against Germany at the Allianz Arena.

Victory for the Hungarians would move them into the knockout stages of the Euros for the second consecutive tournament.

However the football mad Orban will not see their performance in the flesh after a wave of criticism in Germany over his government’s decision to ban the dissemination of materials in schools on homosexuality and gender change.

On Wednesday, the German chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the new law in Hungary.

"I think this law is wrong and also not compatible with my ideas," Merkel told MPs.

Praise

On Tuesday, Orban’s government praised Uefa, the Euro 2020 organisers, for rejecting a request from Munich city council to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Uefa’s decision was met with fury. Football clubs in cities including Cologne, Frankfurt and Berlin announced plans to light their own stadiums in rainbow colours.

Organisations ranging from Munich’s fire brigade to the national rail network, Deutsche Bahn also tweeted messages of support for LGBTQ+ activists. One train was painted in rainbow stripes.

Anger

Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, called Uefa’s decision shameful and said a wind turbine located on the opposite side of the motorway to the Allianz Arena would be lit up in rainbow colours instead.

Uefa has defended its move. It says the illumination would contravene its regulations as a neutral political organisation.

But days earlier it had ruled that the Germany skipper Manuel Neuer, had not contravened those regulations by wearing a rainbow armband.

On Wednesday, the KBVB, Belgium’s football association, said the national team’s skipper would wear rainbow colours on his armband for their last 16 clash on Sunday in Seville.

"We totally disagree with the Uefa decision,” said KBVB spokesperson Stefan van Loock.

“Uefa should have allowed the rainbow colours to be displayed at the German stadium," he added.

"If they say themselves that they are for integration, equality and transparency, then it would have been the appropriate way to display it," added Van Loock.

On Wednesday evening, the European Commission said will take action against Hungary over the new law.

"I have instructed my responsible commissioners to write to the Hungarian authorities expressing our legal concerns before the bill enters into force,” said the Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

"The Hungarian bill is a shame," she added.

On Tuesday, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Ireland and other European countries condemned Hungary over the law.

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