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Hungary PM Viktor Orban orders 5-question referendum on LGBTQ ban

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Activists march against a law that bars LGBTQ content from being accessible to children, in front of Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on June 14. File Photo by Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE
Activists march against a law that bars LGBTQ content from being accessible to children, in front of Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on June 14. File Photo by Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE

July 21 (UPI) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Wednesday that his government will hold a referendum on a controversial new law that bars materials intended for children from containing LGBTQ content.

Orban said the referendum is aimed at "child protection" in the law, which has been widely condemned as discriminatory against LGBTQ persons.

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The law bans portrayals of LGBTQ content in schools through amendments that were made to a national child sex abuse law.

"LGBTQ activists visit kindergartens and schools and conduct sexual education classes. They want to do this here in Hungary as well," Orban claimed in a Facebook video on Wednesday.

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The law took effect this month and is modeled partly on a Russian law that banned similar content that's intended for minors.

Orban didn't say when the referendum will be held, but said it will include five questions -- including asking whether citizens support minors being shown "media content of a sexual nature that is capable of influencing their development."

The referendum is seen as a response to pressure from the European Union, which has assailed the Hungarian law. EU President Ursula von der Leyen has called the bill a "shame."

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"It discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and goes against the EU's fundamental values," she tweeted last month.

Orban has been accused by some of using the law to gain support among his conservative base ahead of elections next year, and to shift the focus away from other scandals.

Activists say the referendum may increase discrimination and make life more dangerous for LGBTQ children.

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Orban's announcement came three days before the Budapest Pride march on Saturday.

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