* The German football club has sacked the Hungarian coach for anti-LGBT comments
* Hungary: Punishing opinion reminds us of the ‘totalitarian’ Germany
* Germany has criticized the anti-democracy movement in Hungary
BUDAPEST / BERLIN, April 8 (Reuters) – A top aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban questioned Germany’s democratic standards on Thursday after a German football club fired a Hungarian coach for expressing anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT views.
“Expressing your opinion is not punishable under the rule of law,” Orban chief of staff Gergely Gulyas told a news conference. “I think this is outrageous, Germany, above all, must answer whether it still upholds the rule of law.”
He spoke against the backdrop of tensions between the nationalist Orban and members of the western European Union including Germany over what they see as an anti-democracy movement in Hungary under his rule, an accusation his government denies.
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Germany’s business attorney to express “shock” at the sacking of Bundesliga football club Hertha BSC Berlin goalkeeping coach, Zsolt Petry, a Hungarian, on Tuesday.
Gulyas said Petry’s dismissal reminded him of Nazi Germany. “One totalitarian regime started in Germany in the 20th century. We don’t want to see anything else on the 21st, “Gulyas said in a statement.
The German government did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Orban’s right-wing 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.
Gulyas also said the German parliament had passed a law allowing same-sex marriage despite the Constitutional Court’s conflicting opinions, calling the move “highly unusual in a country that respects the rule of law”.
While German court jurisprudence once ruled out same-sex marriage, analysts say it has stepped down from that position in a series of rulings since 2009. No constitutional challenge has ever been raised against the 2017 parliamentary vote approving same-sex marriage.
Hungary and its populist nationalist ally Poland have been criticized for years for an alleged retreat from the EU’s democratic standards, in part by asserting control over the media, courts and academics, and campaigning against gay rights.
Petry was sacked by Hertha on Tuesday after he criticized Peter Gulacsi, the star goalkeeper for Bundesliga rivals Red Bull Leipzig, in a statement published by pro-Orban daily Magyar Nemzet.
“I don’t know what made Peter defend the people (LBGT),” Petry told the Budapest newspaper. “If I were him, I definitely wouldn’t have aroused such emotions.”
He also criticized European immigration policies, saying “criminals have flooded into Europe”.
Gulacsi protested Petry’s comments on 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. “
Hertha BSC CEO Carsten Schmidt said Petry had been fired after a six-year term because his statements did not “fit the values” of the football club.
Hertha did not immediately comment on Gulyas’ remarks. (Additional reporting by Anita Komuves in Budapest Editing by Mark Heinrich)