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Hungary approves referendum on LGBTQ issues

November 30, 2021

Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to limit teaching about homosexuality and transgender topics in schools. Hungarians will get the chance to vote on the issue, perhaps on the same day as next year's national election.

A drag queen outside the Hungarian parliament holds a rainbow flag
Rights activists have protested against Orban's anti-LGBTQ stance Image: Bela Szandelszky/dpa/picture alliance

Hungary's parliament on Tuesday gave the green light for the country to hold a referendum on LGBTQ issues.

The vote, backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is the latest move that critics argue suppresses human rights.

Lawmakers from the ruling Fidesz party approved four referendum questions pertaining to sex education programs in schools and the availability to children of information regarding sexual orientation.

The ballot paper will also question whether voters support the unrestricted presentation of media content that "influences the development of underage children." Opposition lawmakers abstained from voting on the bill.

Election on the horizon

With an election due next year, Orban has sought to promote policies that he says safeguard Christian values against Western liberalism, putting gender issues and what he repeatedly calls LGBTQ "propaganda" at the center of his reelection campaign, along with migration.

Many of Orban's policies have put him at loggerheads with the European Union, which is keen to preserve human rights in its member states.

In July, the European Commission launched legal action against Hungary and Poland over measures it says discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

'No to LGBTQ propaganda'

However, deputy minister Balazs Orban told parliament that Hungarians "should have a chance to express their stance on the issues of gender propaganda."

"We are committed. We have to say no to LGBTQ propaganda in schools carried out with the help of NGOs and media, without parental consent."

He said holding the referendum on the same day as the national election would save taxpayer money.

jsi/nm (AP, Reuters)