An aide to Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced that Hungary will hold a referendum by early 2022 on a law that prohibits LGBTQ+ promotion to minors after threats from the European Union.

Gergely Gulyas stated during a news briefing on Thursday that the referendum on the Child Protection Act would take place at the end of this year at the earliest, or in January-February of 2022 at the latest.

This follows on from Orban’s announcement on Wednesday that the country would hold a five-point referendum. The questions concern an array of topics, from lessons on sexual orientation in schools to gender reassignment. Gulyas reiterated on Thursday the importance of the referendum for assessing public opinion.

The law, passed in late June, has banned LGBTQ+ content, such as non-traditional relationships and gender roles or gender reassignment from being displayed in schools or in children’s media. Hungary upholds that the law is necessary for protecting children and that Brussels is “attacking” the country over the initiative.

The EU has threatened to withhold €7.2 billion in funds requested by Hungary for its national coronavirus recovery plan if Orban does not amend the law. On Thursday, Gulyas relayed that the Hungarian government is still negotiating with the European Commission (EC) on access to the fund and that it hopes an agreement can be found between Brussels and Budapest.

The EC announced on July 15 that it was commencing legal action against Hungary for violating LGBTQ+ freedoms, which the body sees as an attack on wider human rights. The bloc’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, has spoken out against the law on numerous occasions, and pledged that “Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatized.”

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