Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban on Wednesday announced plans to call a referendum on a controversial LGBTQ law after the European Commission launched legal action against his government over the measure.

The legislation that has now increased friction between Hungary and the EU limits schools’ teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues. It came into effect this month, has caused anxiety among Hungary’s LGBTQ community and drawn scorn across Europe.

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The European Commission last week began legal action over the measures, which have been included in amendments to education and child protection laws. If successful, Brussels could hold up funding for Hungary while the restrictions are maintained.

But unrelenting Orban has raised the stakes of the battle with EU as he throws the legislation into a nationwide vote.

“The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot cede ground in this issue,” Orban said in a video posted on Facebook.

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“In the past weeks, Brussels has clearly attacked Hungary over its child protection law. Hungarian laws do not permit sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, on television and in advertisements,” he added.

The law has been billed by Hungary’s government as a way to protect children, but opponents argue that it conflates paedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatises LGBTQ people.

After a decade in power, Orban now faces an election next April is looking to portray himself as a defender of traditional Christian values against Western liberalism.

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