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HUNGARY’S government is planning to hold a national referendum in an effort to highlight public support for its new anti-LGBT legislation, the Prime Minister revealed today.
The government claims that the law aims to protect children, but the European Union and campaigners have called it an attack on LGBT rights.
In a video posted on Facebook, right-wing PM Viktor Orban said that the referendum was necessary to counter opposition to the measures.
He said that the EU had “abused its power” by launching legal action against Hungary over the law.
“Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary in recent weeks due to its child protection law,” Mr Orban said.
“When the pressure against our homeland is so strong, only the common will of the people can defend Hungary.”
The law, passed last month, bans the depiction of homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors in school education programmes and media content.
The referendum will feature five questions, including whether children should be introduced to topics of sexual orientation in schools and whether gender reassignment should be promoted or depicted to children.
It will also ask whether gender reassignment procedures should be made available to minors, Mr Orban said, urging Hungarians to vote “no” to each of the questions.
The EU argues that the law discriminates against LGBT people and contravenes the union’s fundamental values.
Minutes after the announcement of the referendum, several opposition parties called for a boycott of the vote.
Far-right Jobbik party president Peter Jakab called the referendum plan a “clear diversion” from the international Pegasus spying allegations published on Sunday.
Centrist Momentum Movement party president Andras Fekete-Gyor said that it was “a mockery of democracy and nothing more than gratuitous hate-mongering.”
On Tuesday, the EU’s executive commission issued a report on EU members’ adherence to the rule of law, where it outlined the erosion of democratic standards in Hungary, including inadequate anti-corruption measures and deterioration of media pluralism.
The Commission has also opted to withhold payment of billions of euros in EU economic recovery funds to Hungary until it implements judicial reform and strengthens anti-corruption frameworks, according to European justice commissioner Didier Reynders.
Mr Orban called the moves an attempt to force Hungary to amend the anti- LGBT law, though the report did not mention it.
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