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Tag: child protection referendum

Gov’t Spent 5 Billion Ft. of Public Money on Promoting “Child Protection” Referendum

From January, an estimated 5 billion Ft. (US $13.8 million) was spent on billboards promoting the so-called “child protection” referendum that was held together with parliamentary elections on April 3, reports Napi.hu from calculations by Kantar Media.

This sum included public service commercials that similarly served the government’s preferred narrative: a dramatized scene of a young girl telling her mother that instead of their regular lessons at school, students listened to a lecture about gender transitioning.

Kantar estimated that the Prime Minister’s Office spent nearly 3 billion Ft. ($8.29 million) just in March on traditional media advertising (print, TV and radio commercials, and public billboards) for the campaign.

Despite the campaign and vast sums spent on it, none of the four questions on the government-proposed referendum reached the required threshold, and were therefore delcared invalid. [HVG]

Curia Upholds Fine Against Human Rights NGO for Campaigning to Invalidate Votes

picture of person invalidating vote

Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, has rejected a request for review of a fine levied on the Background Society by the National Election Commission (NVB). NVB imposed a 3 million Ft. (US $8,600) fine against the human-rights NGO for its campaign to encourage voters to invalidate the government’s child protection referendum, reported the state news agency.

NVB, after receiving a complaint, ruled that the Background Society had violated the provisions relating to the proper right to exercise the Election Law in good faith when it encouraged voters to invalidate their referendum ballots.

The election board claimed that the referendum campaign should not be intended to incite voters to cast an invalid vote, “because this not only tears apart, but also breaks through the constitutional goal of a direct exercise of power and the legislative will behind it.” NVB stated that this act therefore constitutes an abusive exercise of the law, and obliged the Background Company to pay a 3 million Ft. fine.

The NGO then filed a petition for judicial review with the Curia, arguing that urging voters to legally cast an invalid vote was not at all contrary to the purpose of referendum-related campaign activity, and therefore not contrary to the purpose of the referendum campaign.

However, the Curia rejected the request for review without a substantive examination on Wednesday, noting that “the submission [by the Background Society] did not contain a substantive argument, and did not indicate the specific context upon which it based NVB’s decision as infringing.”

[Népszava][Image: Amnesty International Magyarország / Facebook]

Pro-Government Media Hides Fact that Child Protection Referendum was Invalid

screenshot of news headline

The fact that Sunday’s referendum was declared invalid does not appear to be newsworthy to certain news sources friendly to the government. In articles published in Origó or vg.hu, for example, it does not appear anywhere that the government-sponsored four-question referendum on “child protection” issues failed.

The National Election Office said that a valid referendum would have required valid responses from at least 4.1 million voters, but not one of the four questions reached this threshold. However, this is not mentioned in the articles on the referendum by these news sites.

Other media outlets pointd out that the referendum didn’t succeed, but chose to draw attention to the number of people that rejected questions like, “Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children?”

Magyar Nemzet, for example, wrote that despite the national referendum being declared invalid, the overwhelming majority of people answered “no” to the questions. They therefore considered it successful, as “more than half of those who voted validly gave the same answer” to the questions drawn up by the government.

888.hu and PestiSrácok.hu also highlighted the high number of “no” votes for each questions, with 888‘s headine (pictured above) reading, “Overwhelming proportion of ‘no’ votes in the child protection referedum.”

The questions in the “child protection” referendum covered nearly nothing new in a legal sense, but were still useful for the government for political reasons, writes HVG.

[HVG]

Government-Sponsored Referendum on “Protecting Children” Declared Invalid

picture of child protection referendum ad

With nearly 100% of the vote counted, the so-called “child protection” referendum sponsored by the government was officially declared invalid. Data from the National Election Office shows that only around 44% valid votes were received for all four questions on the referendum.

Among the valid votes, around 95% of voters said “no” to three of the four questions, which were:

  • Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children?
  • Do you support the display of media content showing gender reassignment to minors?
  • Do you support the unrestricted depiction of sexual-themed media content to minors that affect their development?

The final question, “Do you support holding sexual orientation sessions for minor children in public education institutions without parental consent?” was answered in the negative by just 92% of those who chose to answer it validly.

This result suggests that there were around 100,000 people who did not support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children, nor did they support the unrestricted depiction of sexual-themed media content to minors that affect their development, but did support holding sexual orientation sessions for minor children in public schools without parental consent.

Approximately 20% of the referedum ballots were declared invalid, while around 35% of voters didn’t even fill it out.

[Magyar Hang]

Strong Reactions to Orbán’s Claim That Homosexuality May Lead to Pedophilia

picture of rainbow flags

In addition to discussing the latest developments with the coronavirus in Hungary, recently-declared vaccine policies, and the new government policy of freezing prices on certain consumer goods, Viktor Orbán also talked about the backlash to the proposed “child protection” referendum on his Friday morning interview on Kossuth Rádió.

The Prime Minister responded to a statement released the day before by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, who claimed that the government-proposed referendum promotes “stereotypes, prejudice and hate against LGBTI people,” and “wrongly associates homosexuality with pedophilia.”

But Orbán stated that this wasn’t a human rights issue, as “adults can freely choose how they want to live their lives.” The referendum is about the sexual upbringing of children, he said, in which “the rights of parents to be able to say how they want to raise their children must be acknowledged.”

Parents decide when, what questions, and with what words to introduce their child into the complex world of sexuality. It wasn’t easy for us either to go from being a boy to a man at the age of 14. It’s a complicated world out there.

-Viktor Orbán told host Katalin Nagy.

Nagy leaned further into the topic by telling the Prime Minister that “this propaganda has already infiltrated into several schools,” bringing up a lecture given to children by a transvestite as an example.

Orbán recalled that a network of several hundred pedophiles had been uncovered in Germany, a highly-civilized country. “It’s good to know that in this modern world, we need to protect our children from certain phenomena that are becoming more prominent,” he stated.

Homosexuality is also present in today’s world, but according to Orbán, “there is a huge debate over whether or not it leads to pedophilia.” The Prime Minister reiterated that “every parent has a right [to protest] if schools want to confront our children with unfamiliar things,” and choose if they don’t want to take part in it.

“We Have to Name the Gay Members in the Government and in Fidesz Leadership.”

Reaction to Orbán’s insinuation that homosexuality may lead to pedophilia came swiftly from certain members on the opposition side.

Klára Ungár, one of the founders of Fidesz who later joined SZDSZ, posted on Facebook that the Prime Minister has begun to make a “direct link” between homosexuality and pedophilia. There is only one way to defend against this connection, she said: “We have to name the gay members in the government and in Fidesz leadership.”

LMP politician Péter Ungár, Klára Ungár’s nephew, also reacted strongly to Orbán’s comments, calling it “serious, hateful, and lying” to claim that homosexuality leads to pedophilia.

And Budapest Pride responded with a statement condemning the Prime Minister’s comments, alleging that:

The government is in fact the child abuser, who in recent years has not been ashamed to sacrifice the physical, mental, and emotional health of countless children in order to retain power.

[Telex, HVG]

Human Rights NGOs Urge Hungarians to Invalidate Child Protection Referendum

picture of person voting

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.”

[444]

Council of Europe Says Gov’t “Child Protection” Referendum Reinforces Stereotypes, Prejudice, Hate

picture of Dunja Mijatovic

“The Hungarian government must stop instrumentalizing and weakening the human rights of LGBTI people,” states the title of an announcement put out by Dunja Mijatović (pictured). The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said that it was unfortunate that on the day of Hungary’s parliamentary elections there will also be a national referendum initiated by the Hungarian government on so-called “child protection” issues.

Mijatović finds it disappointing that in June 2021, despite international protests, the Hungarian parliament passed a “child protection” law that “wrongly associates homosexuality with pedophilia,” and also “curtails the freedom of expression and education of all Hungarians.”

I am worried 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, by putting questions to popular vote that are ambiguous and misleading.

-the human rights commissioner said in the statement.

Mijatović added that it is false to believe that comprehensive sexual education is detrimental to children’s development, but rather, it is essential to prevent the sexual abuse of children and to promote safe and inclusive societies.

I have previously warned that political manipulation of the human rights of LGBTI people is on the rise in Europe and symptomatic of a more general attack on and disregard for human rights. The referendum in Hungary is a striking illustration of this worrying trend.

-closed the statement by Dunja Mijatović.

[444]

Constitutional Court Allows Gov’t “Child Protection” Referendum to Proceed

picture of Hungarian Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of Hungary unanimously upheld the parliamentary resolution introduced by ruling party Fidesz that called for a referendum on so-called “child protection” issues, reports HVG. The court found that the petitions that sought to annul the resolution were unfounded.

With this ruling, the Constitutional Court removed all obstacles from holding the referendum, which will take place at a date to be determined by the President of Hungary. Presumably it will be held together with parliamentary elections in April or May of this year.

On November 30, Parliament passed a party-line vote to hold a referendum on four issues:

Do you support the promotion of gender reassignment treatments for minor children?

Do you support the display of media content showing gender reassignment to minors?

Do you support the unrestricted depiction of sexual-themed media content to minors that affect their development?

Do you support holding sexual orientation sessions for minor children in public education institutions without parental consent?

The government planned to have a fifth question included in this amendment as well, which read, “Do you support making gender reassignment treatments available for minor children?” However, the Curia High Court invalidated the phrasing of the question on October 22 of last year.

Following this judgment, the government then turned to the Constitutional Court to appeal its decision on the fifth question, which eventually overturned the Curia’s ruling and approved the question in December.

But despite a positive ruling for the government, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated in his Government Info briefing before Christmas he was satisfied with having just four questions on the referendum and that they would not be revisiting the issue.

[Magyar Hang][Photo: alkotmanybirosag.hu]