Hungary’s Orbán wins election, loses referendum – won’t care

Viktor Orbán hungary
Image: Balázs Orbán Twitter

Vladimir Putin’s closest EU ally, Hungary’s autocratic and homophobic Viktor Orbán swept back to power on the weekend but lost a referendum on ‘LGBT+ propaganda’. With Orbán’s history of ignoring referendum results, that will provide no consolation to LGBTIQ+ Hungarians.

Hungary is one of the most notoriously homophobic and transphobic countries in the EU. In 2019, the country pulled out of Eurovision because of ‘the homosexual flotilla’. Then, the following year, Orbán banned the legal recognition of transgender people.

It hasn’t gone all his way though. Also in 2020, a co-founder of Orbán’s party resigned after police caught him in a 20-man gay sex orgy.

Despite facing a united opposition mounting an all-out bid to end his long sorry rule, Orbán never seemed likely to lose.

During his time in power, the prime minister has rigged everything possible in his own political favour. Electorates are gerrymandered and the heavily-policed private media is overwhelmed by government propaganda outlets.

Orbán also capitalised on his relationship with Russia’s Putin. He promised to keep Hungary out of the war in Ukraine and that his sweetheart deals with the Russian dictator would ensure cheap gas for heating.

Orbán’s referendum

Posters advertising Orbán’s Fidesz party pictured a young mother and child. Next to the pair, the slogan Protect the children. The poster promoted a NO vote to referendum questions on ‘LGBT propaganda’.

It asked questions like ‘Do you support the promotion of sex reassignment therapy for underage children?’

Orbán held the referendum following criticism of a government ban on discussion of LGBTIQ+ issues in the media and education facilities.

However, the referendum failed to reach the requisite 50% of valid votes.

But that will not worry Orbán. He previously defied referendum votes and will do so again. Vilifying the LGBTIQ+ communities is a long tradition among autocratic rulers. Queer people serve as a villain ripe for ‘othering’ because dictators always need to provide their followers — and especially waverers — with a common enemy.

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