The National Election Committee (NVB) on Friday approved the government’s five referendum questions on child protection.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced earlier this month that the government had decided to initiate a referendum with a view to defending Hungary’s new child protection law from “attacks” by Brussels.
The questions certified by the NVB today are the following: “Do you support the holding of sexual orientation classes for children in public education without parental consent?”; “Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minors?”; “Do you support making gender reassignment surgery available to minors?”; “Do you support presenting media content that influences sexual development to children without restriction?”; “Do you support presenting media content that depicts gender change to children?”.
The referendum bid was backed by nine members of the committee, including six elected members and one delegate each from the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democrat parties and opposition Jobbik. One elected member and the delegate of opposition LMP voted against the initiative, while the delegates of the opposition Párbeszéd, Socialist and Democratic Coalition (DK) parties abstained from voting.
The committee’s decisions can be appealed to the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, within 15 days.
András Téglási, the head of the committee, argued in the debate on the questions that their subject matter was eligible for a referendum and that they met the requirement of clarity.
Tamás Fazekas, the delegate of Párbeszéd, said that the institution of the referendum should not be used in political debates, and criticised the government for intending to use the referendum questions in the debate following the European Commission’s launch of an infringement procedure against Hungary over its child protection law.
He said three of the five questions did not meet the requirement of clarity, while two should be rejected on the grounds that they violate the ban on affirmative referendums.
András Litresits of the Socialists said it was “unacceptable” that the committee had not agreed to discuss referendum questions that had been submitted by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on the same day as the government’s questions. He accused the government of trying to use the referendum to distract from the Pegasus spyware allegations.
DK’s Dezső Avarkeszi insisted that the government’s questions were unclear and contributed to the hollowing out of the institution of the referendum.
Krisztián Csonka of LMP criticized the first question saying that it required a definition for “sexual orientation” in order to be clear. He said that if the referendum were to be valid and its results made binding, any form of sexual education at schools would be illegal.
Commenting on the NVB’s decision, the Government Information Centre (KTK) said Hungarians would be the first nation in Europe to get to express their views on “the issue of aggressive LGBTQ sexual propaganda targeting children”.
“The international, Brussels-based and domestic left-liberal organizations and the entire Soros network have launched an all-out attack on Hungary in recent weeks for putting this issue on the agenda,” the KTK said in a statement.
The Hungarian government believes that parents should have the exclusive right to decide on the sex education of their children and that “LGBTQ organizations and activists have no right to interfere in that”, it added.
Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI