Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reportedly cancelled his trip to watch his country’s team play Germany in the Euros in Munich on Wednesday night.
The last-minute move comes after Munich’s mayor Deiter Reiter and city council had threatened to light up Allianz Arena stadium in rainbow colours in protest against Hungary’s anti-LGBT law.
But the UEFA denied their request because it was considered a political move – and have today defended their decision to ban the display and said they ‘respect the rainbow’.
And now, Orban, who had planned to attend the Euro 2020 final group game at the Munich stadium on Wednesday, has cancelled his trip to the German city, German news agency DPA reported.
Orban has called on German politicians to accept the decision by the UEFA.
‘Whether the Munich football stadium or another European stadium is lit in rainbow colours is not a state decision,’ he told the agency, adding that the colours are seen in the streets of Budapest.
‘In communist Hungary, homosexual people were persecuted. Today, the state not only guarantees the rights of homosexuals, but actively protects them.’
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reportedly cancelled his trip to watch his country’s team play Germany in the Euros in Munich tonight
UEFA have blocked the request to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours on Wednesday
People hold a rainbow flag in Munich next to Hungary fans and police gathering for the Germany v Hungary match on Wednesday
Hungary’s supporters are seen at Wienerplatz in Munich holding a banner reading ‘God is with you Viktor!’
UEFA has insisted it ‘respects the rainbow,’ while refusing to allow Munich’s stadium to be lit up in the colours of the LGBTQ+ flag. Pictured: People display a rainbow flag and umbrellas in front of police officers and Hungary fans in Munich on Wednesday
Hungary’s new ‘anti-LGBT’ law
Hungary’s new law is ostensibly designed to crack down on paedophilia, but critics argue amendments to it make a dangerous link between homosexuality and the abuse of minors.
The law prohibits sharing any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment to children under 18 in school sex education programs, films and advertisements.
Human rights groups have denounced the measure, saying it could be used to stigmatize and harass residents because of their sexual orientation or gender identities, and deprive young people of essential sex education information.
Thousands have protested in Hungary’s capital of Budapest against the measures.
A number of EU countries including Germany have condemned the law, and a joint statement was released on Tuesday voicing ‘grave concern’ about its impact on the LGBT community.
Last December homosexual couples were also effectively banned from adopting children, as part of Viktor Orban’s reforms.
Reiter had been pushing to illuminate the stadium in his city as a direct response to legislation approved by Orban’s populist right-wing government in Hungary banning gay people from appearing in educational materials in schools or messages that promote gender change for under 18s.
European football’s governing body, which appears to be developing a cosy relationship with Hungary — as demonstrated by its position as a back-up choice for the Euro 2020 final — dismissed the request because of its ‘political context’.
But amid controversy over the move, UEFA today issued a statement which said the organisation is ‘proud to wear the colours of the rainbow’.
UEFA added: ‘Some people have interpreted UEFA’s decision to turn down the city of Munich’s request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colours for a EURO 2020 match as “political”.
‘On the contrary, the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium for this evening’s match with Germany.
‘For UEFA, the rainbow is now a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.’
But after UEFA’s decision to dismiss the request, Germany left them with no doubt what they thought about the snub.
German player Mats Hummels turned up for a pre-match press conference wearing a multi-coloured shirt branded with the slogan ‘love unites’ and spoke of the positive impact sportsmen and women can make on society.
Boss Joachim Low said he would have been ‘happy if the stadium was illuminated in rainbow colours’ and that it was important not only to provide ‘symbols’, but also to ‘live with these values’.
Captain Manuel Neuer has promised he will continue to wear the rainbow armband, which briefly sparked a disciplinary investigation by UEFA before they back-tracked.
The armband is a statement not only from Neuer in Pride month, but from the entire team against hate and homophobia. The message was clear enough, even if the Germans had conceded defeat on the rainbow illumination plan.
‘I would have enjoyed it, personally,’ said Hummels. ‘Without wanting to cause any trouble, I’m a friend and I’m a supporter of messages like this to the world.
‘It should be accepted in sport. It should be normal. Every small symbol and gesture is a step in the right direction — that’s the message of the team.’
Dieter Reiter (pictured) branded UEFA ‘shameful’ as he announced plans to put up rainbow flag’s at the city’s town hall and illuminate a huge wind turbine close to the stadium
But amid controversy over the move, UEFA today issued a statement which said the organisation is ‘proud to wear the colours of the rainbow’
UEFA recently abandoned an investigation into Manuel Neuer for wearing a rainbow armband
Hungary fans gather in Munich’s Wienerplatz ahead of the Euros game between Germany and Hungary
Multiple Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Cologne, have pledged to illuminate their stadiums during the game. Pictured: Hungary fans in Munich on Wednesday
Munich mayor Reiter slammed the decision by UEFA, saying: ‘I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a message here in Munich for tolerance, respect and solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community. Pictured: People display rainbow umbrellas next to arriving Hungary fans in Munich
Revealing their decision to ban Munich from lighting up the stadium in rainbow colours, the UEFA proposed alternative dates for the stadium to be lit up and issued a flaky statement, which said: ‘UEFA understands that the intention is also to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion — a cause which UEFA has been supporting for many years — having joined forces with European clubs, national teams and their players, launching campaigns and plenty of activities all over Europe.
‘And consequently, UEFA has proposed alternative dates for the illumination which align better with existing events.’
That stance has been ridiculed across football. Multiple Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Cologne, have pledged to illuminate their stadiums during the game.
France striker Antoine Griezmann also posted a picture of the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours with a rainbow emoji and a fist.
All of which made UEFA’s stance seem like another PR own goal by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
Munich mayor Reiter slammed the organisation and said: ‘I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a message here in Munich for tolerance, respect and solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community.
‘I am also very disappointed that the DFB (the German football federation), despite the unbelievably clear positioning here in Munich, has not achieved anything.’
Meanwhile, Georginio Wijnaldum will reiterate Holland’s anti- discrimination stance by wearing a special captain’s armband in their last 16 tie in Budapest on Sunday.
Wijnaldum’s armband will show the multi-coloured heart logo of the Dutch FA’s OneLove campaign launched last year.
Germany take on Hungary in their final Euro 2020 group game on Wednesday night in Munich