Hungary’s right-wing and homophobic Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was re-elected on Sunday, winning a fifth term in office, but failed to win enough votes for his anti-LGBTQI referendum.

The government-sponsored ‘child protection referendum’ targeted the LGBTQI community by asking biased questions and sought to limit the teaching of LGBTQI issues in schools. 

Invalid Votes Upset Orbán’s Referendum

As per Hungarian law, around half of the eight million registered voters needed to vote in the referendum for it to be binding. The opposition parties and human rights groups had asked citizens to boycott the referendum and to cast invalid votes. Many voters responded to those calls by either not asking for the referendum vote papers or spoiled their papers to cast invalid votes. 

According to the National Election Office, just 44.46% or 3.5 million votes were valid, with nine in 10 voters supporting the government’s anti-LGBTQI position. More than 1.5 million votes or around 20% of votes were declared invalid. 

Bloomberg said that Orbán could still claim that the non-binding referendum was a victory, as he had done after past referendums. 

Orbán had proposed the referendum last year following criticism by the European Union and others after Hungary’s Parliament passed a law banning the LGBTQI content in schools and in the media. 

Referendum Was In ‘Bad Faith’

The referendum asked questions that human rights groups said were framed in a biased manner. The referendum asked citizens whether they supported educational programs that introduced sexual orientation to underage children without their parents’ consent, if information about gender affirmation treatment or media content about about them should be made available to minors and if children should be expsoed to sexually explict content in the media that affects their development.

ILGA-Europe said that Orbán’s referendum was “in bad faith and does not reflect the true humanity of the Hungarian people, who are open and accepting of the LGBT community and deeply believe that every citizen should live in safety & equality”.

“Although the LGBT+ referendum failed to achieve Orbán’s aim, we must guard against complacency. He will try again,” EuroPride warned in a tweet.



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