Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orban has declared a national referendum on “child protection” in an escalating battle with the EU over LGBT+ rights.
Orban made the announcement on Wednesday (21 July), days after the European Commission threatened legal action over his controversial “LGBT+ propaganda” ban.
After labelling the challenge an act of “legalised hooliganism,” the far-right leader heightened tensions by accusing the EU executive of abusing its powers and “attacking” Hungary.
“The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue,” he said in a Facebook video.
“In the past weeks, Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary over its child protection law. Hungarian laws do not permit sexual propaganda in kindergarten, schools, on television and in advertisements.”
The discriminatory legislation, which bans the portrayal of LGBT+ people in media, school materials and advertisements, runs counter to several EU laws and could lead to heavy sanctions if Orban refuses to repeal it.
Yet his threat of a referendum suggests he intends to double down on the ban, deepening the anti-LGBT+ rhetoric that already plagues Hungarian politics.
Hungary referendum will include ‘five questions’
The prime minister did not announce when the planned referendum would be held, but said it would include five questions, Reuters reports.
These would include asking Hungarians whether they support the holding of “sexual orientation workshops” in schools without their consent, or whether they believe gender reassignment procedures should be promoted among children.
Orban said the questions would also include whether content that could affect children’s sexual orientation should be shown without any restrictions, or that gender reassignment procedures should be made available to children as well.
“Our children’s future is at stake and we cannot make concessions in this case,” Orban said, insisting that “when pressure on our country is this strong, Hungary could only be protected by the common will of the people.”
The European Commission has yet to comment on Orban’s plan to hold a referendum.