By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - A Hungarian law banning the use of material in schools seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change will perpetuate stigma and discrimination, a U.N. human rights expert said on Friday.
Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said that the legislation was challenging the "values base" of the European Union (EU).
Hungary's parliament passed legislation last week that bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change, amid strong criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties.
Madrigal-Borloz said that he had voiced his concerns to the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban over the last months.
"This legislation tends to perpetuate stereotypes and stigma around sexual orientation and gender identity," he said. He also said the bill wrongly portrayed homosexuality as linked to paedophilia, which he said was "disgraceful".
Comprehensive sexual and gender education helps break down stigma, and "allows teachers to be well-equipped to address questions of pupils and to address bullying which as we know is a basic problem in schools all over the world," he added.
In 69 countries worldwide it remains a crime to be homosexual or transgender, which has no justification under international human rights law, Madrigal-Borloz told the Human Rights Council earlier on Friday.
"I urge them to dismantle such criminalisation," he said.
"These criminalising provisions, even when they are not applied, create a context that is hostile to the existence of LGBT persons that is also conducive to blackmail and to significant violence affecting the every day lives of these persons," he said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Peter Graff)