Hungarians can have their say on sexuality law


Central Europe


House of Parliament in Budapest. Photo EPA, Tamas Kovacs

There will be a referendum in Hungary on the LGTB law on sexual education. On Tuesday, the parliament in Budapest authorised the Hungarian government to do this. The Hungarian ambassador in Germany criticises the family policy of the upcoming coalition.

The referendum will probably take place on the same day as the parliamentary elections next spring. Prime minister Viktor Orbán announced the referendum on 21 July after the Hungarian parliament had passed the law a month earlier. On Tuesday, parliament voted on four questions of the planned referendum and approved them with the majority of the ruling Fidesz party. The National Election Committee had previously approved the questionnaire for the referendum.

Gender propaganda

“The government proposes that citizens should have the opportunity to express their stance on gender propaganda issues,” said State Secretary Balazs Orbán.

Voters should not simply be able to say yes or no to the law but answer four questions, Euractiv writes. In the referendum, the government wants to ask the population whether content influencing a child's sexual orientation should be shown in the media without restrictions. They will also be asked whether it is permissible to advertise gender reassignment surgery to minors.

The referendum could take place on the same day as the new parliamentary elections, the state secretary said, according to Swiss broadcaster SRF. This would save the taxpayer money. However, the final decision rests with the President of the Republic, Janos Ader. So far, it is assumed that new elections will be held in April.

Culture war

With the referendum, Orbán wants to counter pressure from the European Union to scrap the controversial law. In many EU countries, the law is regarded as discriminating against LGTB people, since it shows the heteronormative preference from the government. Orbán says the law is only intended to protect children. According to him, the referendum is part of an "ideological war" with the European Union.

Hungary has long been at loggerheads with the European Union (EU) over sexual minority rights. In the summer, there were calls for Hungary to leave the EU. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of a "culture war" with Hungary. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte brought up the idea of Hungary leaving the EU.

Viktor Orbán has been Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. After the parliamentary elections next spring, he wants to become prime minister again. Six opposition parties are trying to prevent that by working together for the first time.

Hungary critical of Berlin plans

Hungary's ambassador in Berlin has meanwhile expressed scepticism about the planned cannabis release and the developments in family policy. Peter Györkös fears above all the impact that the new decisions in Germany could have on the EU.

Many German decisions have an impact on the rest of the EU, whether intentionally or not, Györkös told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. "If 'anything goes' family models are legally anchored in a member state, that is an internal matter. But if, as it says in the coalition agreement, it is demanded that all these models are recognised in all member states with all legal consequences, this is a prelude towards new cultural and constitutional conflicts within the EU and many member states," the ambassador said.

Györkös wants the EU member states to retain their sovereignty in socio-political, social and migration policy issues. According to the Hungarian ambassador, the EU is "conducting the wrong debates. We do not make a strong EU with rainbow colours and raised forefinger but through concrete achievements in security and international competitiveness".



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