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A coalition of ten Hungarian human rights NGOs are urging all voters to invalidate their votes for the government’s so-called “child protection” referendum, which will be held together with parliamentary elections on April 3.

The civil organizations believe the four questions on the referendum incite hatred by marginalizing those with non-conforming sexual and gender identities. As they stated:

The referendum is particularly vile for two reasons. On the one hand, the wording of the questions suggests that young people are harmed by just hearing about sexual and gender minorities. On the other hand, it violates the dignity of LGBTQI people. The wording is intentionally manipulative: parents’ natural concern for and protection of their child is being exploited for political purposes. The Fidesz-KDNP government is basing its election campaign for the second time on demonizing a vulnerable group of people.

-the group of NGOs stated.

They are calling on all voters by invalidate their referendum ballot by placing an “X” on both the “Yes” and “No” answers on all four questions.

Invalid questions require an invalid response. Every invalid vote will help ensure that the government’s exclusionary referendum does not reach the validity threshold. Let us prove once again that Hungarians want to live in an society that accepts others, and let’s reject the government’s policy of marginalization and demonization.

-said Dávid Vig, director of Amnesty International Hungary.

In addition to Amnesty International, the NGOs behind the communique are Budapest Pride, Background Society, Labrisz Lesbian Association, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungarian LGBT Association, Prism Transgender Community, Symposium Association, Foundation for Rainbow Families, and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Association.

The government originally proposed five questions last year for a national referendum that it claimed was about protecting children from LGBTQI propaganda. All five questions were challenged in court, and Parliament eventually voted to approve four of them for a national referendum to be held the same day as the country’s parliamentary elections.

The four questions are the following:

  1. Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children?
  2. Do you support the display of media content showing gender reassignment to minors?
  3. Do you support the unrestricted depiction of sexual-themed media content to minors that affect their development?
  4. Do you support holding sexual orientation sessions for minor children in public education institutions without parental consent?

Most recently, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, put out a statement condemning the referendum, noting her concern “that the proposed referendum will entrench stereotypes, prejudice and hate against LGBTI people and therefore have a strong negative impact on their rights, safety and well-being.”

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By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.