Hungarian far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced that his government will hold a national referendum on “child protection,” a euphemism for parts of a recent law widely condemned as discriminatory that bans all representation of children. LGBT people in materials intended for children. .
“LGBTQ activists visit kindergartens and schools and organize sex education classes. They also want to do it here in Hungary, ”Orbán said in a video statement on Facebook released Wednesday.
The referendum will consist of five questions, most of them worded in everyday language. One of the questions is: “Do you support the fact that minors are shown, without any restriction, media content of a sexual nature that may influence their development?”
Orbán announced the referendum three days before the Budapest Pride March on Saturday.
The new Hungarian law entered into force earlier this month. It seems to amalgamate homosexuality and pedophilia, and is in part inspired by a Russian law that bans so-called “gay propaganda” among minors. Hungarian law goes further, making it an offense to “promote or represent” homosexuality or sex reassignment towards minors. It also limits sex education in schools to organizations approved by the government.
Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the bill “shameful” and discriminatory. “I will use all the legal powers of [the] European Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed ”, she said. wrote on Twitter.
Orbán faces elections next spring against a newly formed opposition coalition, which could be a hotly contested race. The vigorous anti-LGBT rhetoric appears to be part of a political strategy to find a new target to strengthen support for Orbán’s Fidesz party, after years of campaigning against refugees and migration.
“The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot let Brussels do what it wants,” said Orbán.
“The Prime Minister asked the Hungarians to say no to these questions, as they did five years ago when we prevented Brussels from imposing migrants on us,” said Orbán spokesman Zoltán Kovács , in a blog post.
In fact, a 2016 referendum on mandatory migrant quotas fell short of the 50% turnout required for it to be binding, even though the vast majority of votes cast were in favor of the government.
Rights groups say the referendum is likely to increase discrimination and stigma against Hungary’s LGBT community, and make life more difficult and dangerous for LGBT children.
“Holding a referendum to take away the fundamental rights of a minority reminds us of 1930s Europe,” Rémy Bonny, a Belgian LGBT rights activist, said in a statement. “This referendum [is] not only putting the LGBTIQ community in the closet, but also endangering the fundamental rights of children.