Following international criticism of a law on homosexuality and sex reassignment, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a referendum on Wednesday. “The future of our children is at stake, so we must not give in on this issue,” he said in a video posted on Facebook. The referendum will consist of five questions, including whether to show unrestricted content that may affect a child’s sexual orientation. It is also necessary to ask whether the change of sex should be announced among minors. Orbán did not mention a date for the referendum.
Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.
The Hungarian head of government has rejected the latest criticisms from the European Commission and the European Parliament. Orbán said the EU attacked his country because of its “child protection law”. “Hungarian laws do not allow sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, on television or in advertising. The Budapest government has faced heavy criticism from other EU member states for weeks. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has put Hungary’s exit from the EU at stake. The European Parliament also condemned the law. EU Gender Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli recently raised the possibility of cutting EU funds for the country.
Distraction from the Pegasus case?
The law provides, among other things, that minors do not have access to content allegedly encouraging homosexuality or gender change. He has also been criticized by human rights activists and the opposition in Hungary. Even the chairman of the once right-wing and now conservative opposition Jobbik party recently announced in an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the law would be changed if the government took power. government next year.
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Observers speak of the referendum announcement as Orbán’s attempt to deflect attention from the latest revelations to spyware Pegasus, which was allegedly used against journalists critical of the Hungarian government. “The referendum initiative is nothing more than a distraction from the biggest wiretapping scandal in Hungarian history,” said Zoltán Kész, director of the Budapest Civitas think tank, FAZ Bulcsú Hunyadi think tank Political Capital that Orbán pursued a strategy similar to this in 2016: When his government came under heavy criticism, he initiated a referendum on migration quotas, which ultimately failed due to low turnout. “
It is still not clear to what extent Orbán can count on the support of the Hungarian people for his policies in the referendum. Zoltán Kész declares: “The vast majority of Hungarian society – whatever its political orientation – shares Viktor Orbán’s position on the LGBTQI issue. The result of the referendum is therefore predictable. ” The only question will be whether the minimum 50 percent voter turnout will be achieved.
Asselborn calls for a referendum on Hungary’s exit from the EU
The European Commission summit initially did not react to Orbán’s announcement of a referendum. “Our legal position is clear: the LGBTQI law violates European law and must be changed,” said the spokesperson for Commission President von der Leyen of the FAZ. . The Budapest government has two months to respond to Brussels’ objections. How it organizes its decision-making process, whether through a national consultation or a referendum, is up to the Hungarian government, the spokeswoman said.
The Luxembourg Foreign Minister spoke on Wednesday in a much more virulent manner than the European Commission. Jean Asselborn launched a referendum on keeping Hungary in the EU. “You should hold a referendum in the EU to find out if you want to tolerate Orbán in the EU,” Asselborn told the news magazine Der Spiegel. He is convinced that the result would be a categorical no.
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