Despite pressure from the European Union, the Hungarian Prime Minister is continuing his reform plans for LGBT+ people. Viktor Orban announced on Wednesday 21 July that a referendum on child protection would be held. This popular consultation is directly linked to a law passed in June that notably prohibits the promotion of homosexuality and gender identity among minors. Mr Orban therefore asked for voter support for this anti-LGBT+ law, after the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Budapest.
‘Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary in recent weeks regarding the law’ which forbids the ” Promotion “ homosexuality among minors, the sovereign prime minister said in a video on his Facebook page.
He then listed five questions, for example to ask the Hungarians whether they accept that the school ‘Talk about sexuality with their children without their consent’, if they support “Promoting Gender Reassignment Treatments for Minors” or the “Unlimited presentation to minors of media content of a sexual nature that affects their development”.
Mr Orban, who has not stated a date for the holding of this referendum, has asked Hungarians to answer no to all questions presented as demands that the European Union wants to impose on Hungary.
Budapest’s Green Mayor Gergely Karacsony responded to the referendum announcement on Wednesday, saying it was a strategy to distract Hungarians from other matters. “I am organizing my own referendum” to ask Hungarians what they think about the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, about the installation “From a Chinese University” in the capital and “Sale of highways”, he joked on Facebook.
Showdown with Brussels
The announcement of this referendum, while the pride march will be held in the capital on Saturday, is part of a legal standoff between Brussels and Budapest over a law to protect minors, passed on June 15, which in particular portrays homosexuality and the change of sex with minors. Budapest presented this measure as a means to “Protect Children”, but her opponents say she associates pedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatizes the LGBT+ community.
The European executive, which considers this law discriminatory against LGBT+ people, has opened infringement proceedings against Hungary, which could lead to referral to the Court of Justice of the EU and subsequently financial sanctions.
Since the return to power of the sovereignist Viktor Orban in 2010, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights have regularly condemned Hungary for reforms targeting justice, the media, refugees, NGOs, universities or minorities. On Sunday, an international consortium of journalists accused Hungary of using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on civil society and various adversaries.
In Central and Eastern Europe, other countries have already held referendums on the rights of sexual and gender minorities. Romanians and Slovaks voted more than 90% against same-sex marriage in 2018 and 2015, but these consultations were declared invalid due to low participation rates.