Hungary sets a date for referendum on controversial LGBTQ law

The law, which effectively bans any discussion of LGBTQ topics in schools, was widely criticized by opposition and civil rights activists when it was passed in June 2021. The European Union has launched legal action against the law. Hungary, a member state, on the legislation, saying it violates “fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people” under EU law.

The referendum is seen as an outright response from the Hungarian government to these criticisms. The vote will take place on April 3, the same day as the country’s general parliamentary elections.

Right-wing populist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban argued that the law was not intended to violate LGBTQ rights, but to preserve the right of parents to choose how to educate their children.

Orban described a five-question referendum vote that will ask the public if they support the “promotion” of content related to sexual orientation to children and urge the public to vote “no.”

When launching the lawsuit against Hungary in July, the European Commission said Budapest had “failed to explain why exposing children to LGBTIQ content as such would be detrimental to their well-being or not in the best interests of the child. ”

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called the law a “disgrace” which goes against the values โ€‹โ€‹of the EU. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte went so far as to say that Hungary “no longer has a place in the EU”.
Protesters against the law gather near the parliament building in Budapest on June 14, 2021.
Experts and human rights activists say Orban hopes to score political points and divide his opponents ahead of the election. Many Hungarian opposition parties have united in an attempt to defeat the longtime leader, but LGBTQ rights remain a major sticking point within the group.

In July, when Orban first proposed a referendum on the law, he referred to a 2016 vote in which Hungary rejected the EU’s refugee resettlement plan but did not failed to meet a voter turnout threshold, making the referendum non-legally binding.

“Then a referendum and the common will of the people stopped Brussels,” he said. “We have already succeeded once and together we will succeed again.”

Leave a Comment