* The German club has sacked the Hungarian coach for anti-LGBT comments
* Aide to Hungarian PM questions Germany’s democratic standards
* Germany has criticized the anti-democracy movement in Hungary (Adding German reaction)
BUDAPEST / BERLIN, April 8 (Reuters) – An assistant to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban questioned Germany’s democratic standards on Thursday after a top German football club fired a Hungarian coach for expressing anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT views.
The Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Germany’s business attorney to express surprise at Hertha Berlin’s sacking of goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry by Hertha Berlin on Tuesday.
“Expressing your opinion is not punishable under the rule of law,” Orban chief of staff Gergely Gulyas told reporters, noting that Petry’s dismissal reminded him of Nazi Germany’s “totalitarian regime”.
“I think this is outrageous, Germany, above all, has to answer whether it still upholds the rule of law,” he said.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said the Hungarian government’s comments were “completely incomprehensible to us”.
“The attorney for business communicates this to the Hungarian government in his conversation (at the ministry). We reject references to National Socialism in the most obvious terms, “the spokesperson said.
Hertha said on Tuesday that although they were satisfied with the former Hungary international’s work, comments he made criticizing LGBTQ people and immigrants ran counter to the club’s position on tolerance and diversity.
Hertha spokesman Marcus Jung said on Thursday that Gulyas’ equal footing with Nazi Germany was a “strange comparison” and that the club “actively promotes social diversity, equality and tolerance”.
Many EU member states, including Germany, have expressed concern about what they see as an anti-democracy movement in Hungary under Orban. Its right-wing government denies any such criticism.
The government has been anti-immigration, has excluded same-sex marriage from Hungary’s constitution, limited gay adoption and legal recognition of transgender people, and has often portrayed homosexuality as an aberration.
Petry was fired by Hertha for questioning what made Red Bull Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi “defend” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In an interview with Hungary’s pro-Orban newspaper, Magyar Nemzet, he also criticized European immigration policies, saying “criminals have flooded into Europe”.
Gulacsi had protested the Hungarian government’s anti-LGBT policies in a Facebook post.
“Everyone has the right to equal treatment,” Gulacsi wrote. “I support the rainbow family. Let’s speak up against hatred, let’s be more accepting and open. (Additional reporting by Anita Komuves in Budapest, Edited by Mark Heinrich, Timothy Heritage, and Giles Elgood)
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