ADDED ON: 04/03/2022

Gays caught in the crossfire of Hungarian election

4/2/22 | Sydney Morning Herald

Among the political billboards and corflutes plastered on just about every lamppost and power pole along the bustling inner-city Budapest streets, one in particular catches the eye. An attractive woman in her mid-30s with brown hair and blue eyes, hugs a young girl of about three or four. The sign, authorised by the government, simply says: “Let’s Protect Our Children”. It urges them to vote “no” on April 3 to halt what it says are attempts to force queer propaganda and gender reassignment on children. The joke going around among the youth of Budapest is that the woman is actually a Russian, a nod at the closeness of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and its Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to the Putin regime in Moscow and its own anti-LGBTQI+ laws. Orban, the European Union’s longest-serving and most controversial leader, has put a battle against “gender insanity” and what he calls Brussels’ “woke” support for trans and gay rights at the heart of his re-election bid. But even some rusted-on supporters privately concede it’s a highly cynical move. The referendum is being held on the same day as the general election to distract from domestic issues such as the government’s handling of the pandemic, rising inflation and the continued creep of Orban’s authoritarianism. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed to defy pressure from the European Union as the bloc’s lawmakers readied for an unprecedented vote on whether to punish Budapest for eroding democracy. Despite sex-change treatment for minors already being illegal in Hungary, voters will be asked: “Do you support the promotion of sex reassignment therapy for underage children?” Hungarians will also be asked whether they support the holding of sexual orientation workshops in schools without parents’ consent and whether media content that could affect sexual orientation should be shown to children without restrictions. New domestic laws which already outlawed these scenarios are being challenged by the European Union. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has vowed to “use all her powers” to strike them down.

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