By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary's parliament passed a resolution on Tuesday which will empower the government to hold a referendum on LGBT issues, raising Prime Minister Viktor Orban's anti-LGBT campaign to a new level as he heads into a tough election race next year.
Orban, a nationalist who has been in power since 2010, this year proposed a referendum on ruling party legislation that limits schools' teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues, stepping up a culture war with the European Union.
Facing his first competitive election in more than a decade, nationalist Orban has sought to promote social policies that he says safeguard Christian values against Western liberalism, putting gender issues and what he calls LGBTQ propaganda at the centre of his campaign along with migration.
Parliament voted on four referendum questions one by one, passing them with Fidesz's ruling majority.
“The Hungarian government proposes that citizens should have a chance to express their stance on the issues of gender propaganda,” deputy minister Balazs Orban told parliament.
“We are committed. We believe that we …have to say no to LGBTQ propaganda in schools carried out with the help of NGOs and media, without parental consent.”
He said holding the referendum on the same day as the parliamentary vote would save taxpayers money but it is up to President Janos Ader to set the date. Ader, an ally of the government, has not yet fixed a date for the parliamentary elections which are expected to be held in April.
In the referendum, Hungarians will be asked whether they support the holding of sexual orientation workshops in schools without parents' consent and whether they believe gender reassignment procedures should be promoted among children.
They will also be asked whether media content that could affect sexual orientation should be shown to children without any restrictions.
The law passed in June, which the government says aims to protect children, has caused anxiety in the LGBT community.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves, editing by Ed Osmond)