Respect LGBT rights or leave EU, Hungary's Orban told

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had some strong words for his Hungarian counterpart, Victor Orban on Thursday (June 24) - respect LGBT rights, or leave the European Union.

The dressing down came after bloc leaders confronted Orban over a law that bans schools from using materials deemed to promote homosexuality.

"It is my intention, on this point, to bring Hungary to its knees. They have to realize they are either a member of the European Union, and so a member of the community of shared values that we are -- that means that in Hungary, in Budapest, in all of proud Hungary which is a beautiful country, that nobody can be discriminated and must feel free on the basis of sexuality, skin colour, gender, whatever, based on article 2 of the founding treaty of the European Union which is non-negotiable -- or get out."

Hungary says the provisions for schools have been included in a law primarily aimed at protecting children from pedophiles.

Several participants of the closed-door meeting spoke of the most intense personal clash among the 27 EU leaders in years on Thursday (June 25) night.

Luxembourg's gay Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, was one of them.

"My takeaway after the speech was to remember a dinner I had five, six or seven years ago with Viktor Orban and my husband in Budapest, and I did not recognize the Viktor Orban sitting across the European Council table today. It is not the same person. It disappointed me a lot and I told him. This was my takeaway from this stigmatization and division of politics. It's sad."

Not everyone in the EU's circle agrees.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said although Hungary's LGBT law goes against the bloc's values, its place is in EU.

And French President Emmanuel Macron says he is not in favor of excluding Hungary from the EU, branding the issue an "existential question for Europeans".

Hungary will now likely face a legal challenge at the EU's highest court over the new law.

Orban has led Hungary since 2010, and faces an election next year.

He has become increasingly conservative and combative in his approach, promoting what he says are traditional Catholic values.

He insisted before the EU meeting that the law was not an attack on gay people, but was aimed at guaranteeing parents' rights to decide on their children's sexual education.

Seventeen of the 27 leaders signed a joint letter reaffirming their commitment to protecting gay rights.