Days after the European Commission launched legal action over Hungary’s anti-LGBTQI law, the country’s ultra conservative prime minister, Viktor Orbán has announced his government will hold a referendum on new “child protection” laws.
Officially called the Children Protection Act, it has the stated purpose of safeguarding children’s well-being and fighting paedophilia. However, as it has been revealed, the law and in extension, the referendum is more a tool to further erode at the rights of Hungary’s LGBTQI+ communities.
Launched three days prior to Budapest Pride march held last Saturday, it follows the anti-LGBTQI law, which came into effect this month. The law banned the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender transition at schools. The bill also seeks to equate homosexuality with pedophilia.
In a video posted to Facebook last week Orbán alleged that “LGBTQ activists visit kindergartens and schools and conduct sexual education classes. They want to do this here in Hungary as well.”
“Then, a referendum and the common will of the people stopped Brussels,” Orbán said. “We have already succeeded once and together we will succeed again.”
Said to have only five questions, the referendum will ask voters if they “support minors being shown, without any restriction, media content of a sexual nature that is capable of influencing their development?”
New Anti-LGBTQI+ Law Is A Disgrace, Says EU
In response Ursula von der Leyen EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called out the bill describing it as a “disgrace” adding that the EU executive would use “all powers available” to force Hungary to repeal or modify the law.
In fact, the laws proposed by Orbán contravene Article 21 of the organisation’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which says “stigmatizing LGBTIQ persons constitute a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity, as provided for in the EU Charter and international law.”
Other members of the European Parliament and other European leaders were quick to condemn Orbán. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that Hungary has “no place in the EU.”
According to the CNN, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, went one step further, issuing a stark warning to Orbán, telling him “My grandfather was Jewish, I’m gay and can live freely. And then I read this law. I know what happens when you turn people into a minority.”
Activists Worried About Long-Term Impact
In response to legal action which could result in the EU withholding funding for Budapest, Orbán claimed that “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.”
Facing an election next April, Orbán who has been in power since 2010, faces a tightly fought battle to retain power. Many are of the opinion that his anti LGBTQI rhetoric is no more than a tool used to retain power.
LGBTQI activists and rights groups are concerned about the long terms effects Orbán latest power play will have. Belgian LGBT rights activist Rémy Bonny who said in a statement: “Organising a referendum to take away fundamental rights of a minority reminds us of Europe in the 1930s. This referendum [is] not only putting the LGBTIQ-community back in the closet, it also endangers the basic rights of children.”