European Union urged to punish Hungary over law criticized as homophobic

Activists protesting against what they say is an anti-LGBT law gather in front of a rainbow balloon at Hungary's parliament in  in Budapest on Thursday.

(CNN)On Thursday the European Parliament condemned in the "strongest possible terms" a new law in Hungary which many critics say is homophobic, and urged the European Commission to impose punitive measures such as budget cuts.

European lawmakers "call on the Commission to launch an accelerated infringement procedure and to use all tools in the Court of Justice, such as interim measures and penalties for non-compliance if necessary," the European Parliament said in a statement.
"They also call on the member states to bring the matter to the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) should the Commission not act, and to launch an inter-state application to the European Court of Human Rights," the statement continued.
    Members of the European Parliament said the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation should be "immediately triggered to protect the EU budget," meaning that if there's a breach of the EU's laws, Hungary's budget should be affected.
      The resolution passed 459-147, with 58 abstentions. It is not binding on the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.
      The resolution comes after the Hungarian Parliament voted on June 15 in favor of a law banning LGBTIQ content from being taught in schools, "under the guise of combating pedophilia," the European Parliament said. The law came into effect Thursday.
      It bans all educational materials and programs for children which are considered to promote homosexuality, gender reassignment and the concept of sexuality deviating from the one assigned to a person at birth.
        The law has been condemned by many EU leaders as being homophobic. The European Parliament says the law resembles Russia's 2013 LGBT Propaganda Law, and urged the European Commission " to investigate the financing of anti-LGBTIQ campaigns in Europe in depth."
        "Parliament stresses this is not an isolated incident, 'but rather constitutes another intentional and premeditated example of the gradual dismantling of fundamental rights in Hungary,' where state-sponsored LGBTIQ-phobia and disinformation campaigns have become tools for political censorship," the EP said in a statement.
        "These human rights violations are part of a broader political agenda to break down democracy and the rule of law, including media freedom, and should be considered a systemic violation of EU values," the statement said.
        The legislation is one of a string of divisive policies championed by Hungarian leader Victor Orban, a hardline nationalist who has previously railed against LGBTQ people and immigrants.
          Orban strongly defended the new legislation on June 24.
          "It's not about homosexuals, it's about the kids and the parents," he said.