Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán plans to defend a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ law enacted last month by putting the issue up to a public vote. In a Wednesday video posted on Facebook, the far-right leader announced that he will push for a national referendum in which Hungarian voters will weigh in on the law, which was recently met with a lawsuit from the European Union (EU). Partially inspired by Russia’s 2013 anti-gay “propaganda” ban, it forbids children under 18 from accessing information on “homosexuality or gender change” in schools and the media.
“The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue,” Orbán said in the video, as Al-Jazeera first reported. “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.”
The move is a clear rebuke to European leaders, who have strongly denounced the anti-LGBTQ+ law since its passage. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutter urged Hungary to leave the EU over the discriminatory measure, saying Hungary has “no place” in the 27-country federation. Xavier Bettel, the openly gay PM of Luxembourg, reportedly confronted Orbán directly in a closed door meeting in June.
“My grandfather was Jewish, I’m gay and can live freely,” Bettel said in a meeting of EU leadership, as CNN reported. “And then I read this law. I know what happens when you turn people into a minority.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, added that the EU’s executive branch would utilize “all powers available” to oppose the law, which she referred to as a “disgrace.” This includes a legal challenge under Article 21 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states that “stigmatizing LGBTIQ persons [constitutes] a clear breach of their fundamental right to dignity.”
The case could ultimately end up decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has the ability to impose significant fines against Hungary. It could take years before the matter is resolved.