Now the people should decide: Hungary’s Prime Minister announces a referendum on a controversial law. Luxembourg’s foreign minister wants to have EU membership checked.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a referendum on Wednesday on a controversial law targeting non-heterosexual people. Among other things, the law prohibits advertising in which homosexuals or transgender people appear as part of normality. The EU Commission sees it as discriminatory and has taken steps against Hungary.
“Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary over the past few weeks because of the law,” Orbán said in a video on his Facebook page. He argues that the law ensures that parents alone can decide how they want to organize the sexual upbringing of their children. He accused the EU of demanding that activists from LGBTQ associations (stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) carry out sex education in Hungarian kindergartens and schools “as is already the case in Western Europe”.
Several questions to vote
Orbán listed five questions for the referendum: Whether the Hungarians are in favor of minors being sexually informed without the consent of their parents, whether gender reassignment can be promoted in children and whether gender reassignment can be carried out in children. It should also be asked whether children should be able to access media reports that can influence their sexual development, as well as media reports about gender reassignments.
Orbán urged the Hungarians to “say no” to these five questions. He cited the referendum of 2016, which was directed against the admission of refugees, as a model. Back then, “Brussels wanted to force immigrants on us,” said Orbán. “At that time we managed to stop it, together we will succeed this time too.” The 2016 referendum was invalid due to lack of participation. A few hours before Orbán’s announcement, the government lifted the referendum ban that had previously been in force due to the corona pandemic.
Asselborn questions Hungary’s EU membership
After Orbán’s announcement, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn questions Hungary’s membership in the EU. “You should hold a referendum in the EU on whether you want to tolerate Orbán in the EU,” Asselborn told “Spiegel”. “I am convinced that the result would be a resounding no.”
Then the endless debate about the EU’s numerous criminal proceedings against the Hungarian government – including an Article 7 procedure for the withdrawal of their voting rights in the EU – would have “been dealt with in one fell swoop,” said Asselborn. Although the instrument of EU-wide referendums has not yet existed, according to Asselborn one should think about its introduction.
Rutte had also advocated leaving the EU
The Luxembourger is not the first senior European politician to put Hungary’s EU membership up for debate over LGBTQ law. At the end of June, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte Orbán, suggested leaving the EU. Hungary has “no longer any place in the EU,” said Rutte, but at the same time admitted: “I cannot force them out.” Member states can only leave the EU voluntarily, the possibility of being kicked out does not exist in the EU treaties.
Hungary’s government justifies the law with the protection of minors, while critics accuse Orbán of discriminating against homosexuals and other minorities. The EU launched infringement proceedings against Budapest last week in response to the law. Previously, 17 EU states including Germany had asked the EU Commission to take immediate action against the law.