Hungary: Orbán planning referendum on LGBT law

Hungary's Prime Minister Orbán wants to let citizens vote on the controversial anti-LGBT law that has led the EU to launch infringement proceedings against the country. Voters will be asked whether parents' consent should be necessary for sex education and whether minors should have access to information on homosexuality, transsexuality and gender reassignment treatments. All of this has nothing to do with child protection, commentators say.

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Adevărul (RO) /

Orbán has his eye on the next elections

This isn't the first time Hungary's prime minister has announced a referendum before an election, LGBT activist Vlad Viski recalls in Adevărul:

“In the past Orbán held one referendum against immigrants and another against [Hungarian-born US billionaire] George Soros around the time of important elections. The opposition has already overtaken Orbán's Fidesz in Budapest, and the loss of the Budapest city council in the 2019 local elections to Gergely Karácsony from a united opposition list shows that Orbán's grip on power is loosening. The referendum announced for this year aims at a new polarisation of the electorate and an activation of Orbán's supporters.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Sham democracy as a diversion

Orbán's proposal for a referendum is quite cunning, Sydsvenskan finds:

“It gives the law the appearance of legitimacy and himself the appearance of caring about the will of the people. And the referendum also distracts from troublesome issues: for example, the fact that the EU Commission is worried about corruption in Hungary and is therefore reluctant to pay out the roughly seven billion euros the country has requested from the pandemic recovery fund. But Orbán's move also shows that referendums are deeply inappropriate when it comes to creating laws for minority rights. It is not democracy when five wolves and a lamb vote on what to have for lunch.”

Diena (LV) /

Referendums are a real danger

It could be disastrous for Europe if Poland, Greece and Bulgaria decide to follow Hungary's example, Diena predicts:

“The mere possibility of a referendum is enough to prompt the pragmatic part of Brussels' democracy to quickly seek a compromise with Budapest. Because firstly, you can't simply ignore a referendum, and secondly, there will most likely be like-minded people in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. There are several countries, such as Poland, Greece and Bulgaria, where this kind of referendum only requires a certain amount of political will. And once this political will emerges it would be a disaster for the ideology of ultra-liberal Europe and the concept of a united Europe that is based on it.”

Válasz Online (HU) /

Political child abuse

Hungary's government is using children as a political instrument, complains Válasz Online:

“The government is not trying to protect a single child, it's simply turned them into an instrument of power, a reference point in an ugly power game. If political paedophilia exists, then this is it. What on earth else can you call it when a politician uses and objectifies minors to fulfil his own desires? This is exactly what happened when Orbán announced that he would initiate 'a referendum on child protection'.”

Le Point (FR) /

Goal already achieved

Hungary's prime minister has been astute, Le Point comments:

“By trying to divide society on the LGBT issue he has led [the right-wing nationalist party] Jobbik back to its earlier positions. And he did it in such a way that Jobbik sided with him in the vote on the anti-paedophilia law, thus breaking with the opposition's boycott strategy. The prime minister has understood that he can use social issues to divide the opposition. ... And anyway, it will be another two years before the ECJ demands that the law blending paedophilia, homosexuality and pornography be withdrawn. By then the Hungarian PM will have sufficiently disrupted Hungary's political landscape in his bid for re-election.”