Czech President Milos Zeman has said he finds transgender people “disgusting”, while appearing to support a new Hungarian law banning educational programmes and material for children which the government considers to be promoting homosexuality or gender change.
Asked about the law passed earlier this month by Hungarian politicians, he told CNN Prima: “If you undergo a sex-change operation you are basically committing a crime of self-harm.
“Every surgery is a risk and these transgender people to me are disgusting.”
Hungary has faced condemnation over alleged human rights abuses, discrimination against migrants and limits on freedom of the press in recent years.
The new law has been strongly criticised by opposition parties at home, rights groups and by more than half of the country’s fellow European Union members – including Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
At an EU summit last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Hungarian premier Viktor Orban to respect LGBT rights or leave the bloc, while Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo described the new law as “primitive”.
However, Mr Zeman said the condemnation amounted to meddling in a country’s internal affairs.
“Viktor Orban says that he is not against homosexuals, but that he is against the manipulation not only of parents, but also of children in sex education,” he said.
“I see no reason to disagree with him, because I am completely annoyed by the suffragettes, the Me Too movement and Prague Pride.”
Czech presidents have limited executive powers but Mr Zeman and his predecessors have had a strong influence on public debate.
The president has also leaned toward Russia and China and has been critical of immigration from Muslim countries.
Mr Orban, who has been Hungary’s PM since 2010, has said the law is not an attack on the gay community but aimed at guaranteeing parents’ right to decide on their children’s sexual education.
But some bloc members are pushing Mr Orban to repeal the law, and have also urged for the matter to be referred to the EU’s highest court.
Openly gay Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has said Budapest should also be subject to an as-yet untested procedure to cut EU funding for those who violate democratic rules. He added: “Most of the time, money is more convincing than talk.”
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