Hungarian human rights groups are urging voters to spoil their ballots to defeat a government referendum on LGBTQ issues taking place alongside a national election on Sunday, saying its approval would strengthen prejudice against the LGBTQ community in Hungary.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a nationalist facing a tough battle to be re-elected for a fourth consecutive term, has proposed a referendum on ruling party legislation that limits schools' teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues.
Hungarian government has said it wanted to stop what it called LGBTQ propaganda in schools carried out with the help of NGOs, in order to protect children.
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 referendum is seen as a riposte to the European Commission, which launched legal action against Budapest over the law that bans the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change at schools, ostensibly as a measure to prevent child abuse. Brussels said it was discriminatory and contravened European values of tolerance and individual freedom.