Tuesday

19th Oct 2021

Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law

  • 'The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue,' said Viktor Orban - who faces elections in April 2022 (Photo: Council of the European Union)

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has announced a referendum on his country's controversial new anti-LGBTIQ law - in response to criticism from the European Union which called the new legislation discriminatory.

The law, passed last month by the Hungarian parliament, bans showing content on homosexuality or gender change to under-18s in school sex-education programmes or media that reaches minors.

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In a Facebook video on Wednesday (21 July), Orbán urged the public to vote 'no' when being asked whether they support the "promotion" of content related to sexual-orientation to minors. The referendum will present five questions on these matters.

"The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue," said Orbán, who faces elections in April 2022.

"In the past weeks, Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary over its child-protection law. Hungarian laws do not permit sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, on television and in advertisements," he added.

"When the pressure against our homeland is so strong, only the common will of the people can defend Hungary," he also said.

Earlier this month, the European Commission launched legal action against Hungary over the new anti-LGBTIQ legislation - described earlier by the president of the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen, as a "shame".

On Tuesday, the second EU-wide rule-of-law report highlighted the deteriorating situation of democratic standards in Hungary at a crucial moment, since Budapest is still awaiting the EU executive approval of its €7.2bn recovery plan.

The commission has expressed concerns over the independence of the judiciary and media pluralism, but the report fell short of mentioning the controversial new legislation.

At a summit last month, EU leaders slammed the anti-LGBTIQ law - prompting Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte to invite Hungary to leave the EU if it does not respect fundamental values.

A total of 17 EU countries argued in a statement that the law "discriminate[s] against LGBTIQ persons and violate[s] the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting children".

Holding referendums in Hungary was banned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opinion

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Politicians use clever framing of issues to convince voters to support laws that harm their own interests. Viktor Orban's new hate law vilifies people for who they love. But its opponents may have unwittingly helped by repeating its framing.

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The EU executive is analysing the latest replies it received from the Hungarian authorities which only arrived last Friday. MEPs have urged the commission not to approve Hungary's plan until an effective anti-fraud system is in place.

Hungary's recovery ratification on hold, amid anti-LGBTIQ row

The EU Commission and most MEPs have called on Hungary on Wednesday (7 July) to repeal discriminatory new laws against LGBTIQ people or face legal consequences. Meanwhile, the commission is assessing Budapest's Covid-19 pandemic recovery plan.

EU Commission warns Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ measures

EU Commission vice-president Thierry Breton and justice commissioner Didier Reynders have written to Hungary's justice minister Judit Varga expressing legal concerns before the Hungarian bill - intended to protect children but including anti-LGBTIQ measures - enters into force.

MEPs visit Hungary to update damning report

The MEPs will meet with Hungary's justice minister Judit Varga, interior minister Sándor Pintér, opposition politicians, including Budapest mayor, Gergely Karácsony, NGOs, and organisations that are critical and also those which support the government led by Viktor Orbán.

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