Hungary's PM to call referendum on child protection issues

by Reuters
Wednesday, 21 July 2021 08:41 GMT

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives a statement after meeting with Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Italy's League party leader Matteo Salvini in Budapest, Hungary, April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Image Caption and Rights Information

The call for a referendum follows legal challenges from the EU on the country's anti-LGBT laws

BUDAPEST, July 21 (Reuters) - Hungary announced plans on Wednesday to call a referendum on child protection issues to combat pressure from the European Union over legislation which the bloc says discriminates against LGBT people.

Stepping up a battle of cultures with the European Commission, Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused the EU executive of abusing its powers in challenging recent amendments to Hungary's education and child protection laws.

"The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue," he said in a Facebook video.

The European Commission did not immediately comment on Orban's plan to hold a referendum.

The prime minister, who has been in power since 2010 and faces an election next April, portrays himself as a defender of traditional Christian values from Western liberalism and has stepped up a campaign against LGBT people.

An anti-LGBT law, which came into force this month, bans the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change at schools. It has caused anxiety in the LGBT community and increased friction with the Commission.

Legal action launched by Brussels last week over the legislation could hold up EU funding for Budapest. read more

"In the past weeks, Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary over its child protection law. Hungarian laws do not permit sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, on television and in advertisements," Orban said.

He did not announce when the planned referendum would be held but said it would include five questions.

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.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Anita Komuves; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Timothy Heritage)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.