The legislation, which came into effect this month, prohibits the use of material considered to promote homosexuality and gender change in schools. This has caused anxiety within Hungary’s LGBTQ community, sparked contempt across Europe and increased friction between the Hungarian government and the commission, the executive body of the European Union.
Stepping up Hungary’s battle with the commission as he announced the planned referendum, Orban on Wednesday accused the body of abusing its powers by launching an infringement case against the legislation last week, which could block funding of the EU for Hungary.
“The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot give ground on this issue,” Orban said in a video posted to Facebook.
“In recent weeks, Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary for its child protection law. Hungarian laws do not allow sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, on television and in advertisements, ”he added.
Orban urges Hungarians to vote ‘no’
The law has been presented by the Hungarian government as a way to protect children, but opponents argue that it confuses pedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatizes LGBTQ people.
Orban, a die-hard nationalist, did not announce a date for the planned referendum, but said he would include five questions.
This would include asking Hungarians whether they support the holding of sexual orientation workshops in schools without their consent, or whether they believe that gender reassignment procedures should be encouraged among children.
Orban said questions would also include whether content that could affect children’s sexual orientation should be shown without any restrictions, or that gender reassignment procedures should also be made available to children.
He urged all participants to answer “No” to the questions.
The Prime Minister, in power since 2010 and facing elections next April, presents himself as a defender of the traditional Christian values of Western liberalism.
He has become increasingly radical on social policy in recent times, denouncing LGBTQ people, migrants and refugees as part of his self-proclaimed illiberal approach to governance.
EU calls bill “shameful”
The European Commission did not immediately comment on Orban’s plan to hold a referendum.
The body said the law violates EU rules on the rights to free speech, as well as free trade and the provision of services.
Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen previously called the bill a “disgrace” and said the EU executive would use “all available powers” to force Hungary to repeal or change the law.
The infringement procedure initiated by the body comprises several stages and could spread over years to finally end up in the European Court of Justice, which could impose financial penalties.
Hungary has two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the committee before the procedure moves to the next stage.