Orbán: The Hungarian Government sets the referendum on the anti-LGTBI law for the end of the year or early 2022 | International

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, on July 8.Darko Vojinovic / AP

The referendum on the law that prohibits the dissemination of LGTBI content in any area where there are minors in Hungary will be held at the end of this year or the beginning of next, Gergely Gulyas, head of Cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Orbán himself had announced on Wednesday that this controversial legal rule would be submitted for consultation in order to "combat pressure from the EU" to change that legislation.

The adoption of this law in mid-June was the last straw for the patience of the European Union, which has maintained a harsh confrontation with the ultraconservative nationalist Orbán that culminated on July 15 with the opening of an infringement file for part of the European Union against Hungary on understanding that this legislation violates fundamental rights.

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The Hungarian prime minister used a video released on Wednesday by the social network Facebook to announce the holding of the referendum. In that recording, he accused Brussels of having “clearly attacked Hungary for its child protection law (the anti-LGTBI norm)”, before defining the dissemination of content about this group as “sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, television and advertisements ”.

Orbán did not specify the date of the consultation at the time, but he did inform that it will include five questions that, due to their formulation, seem aimed at finding the no. Among them, Hungarians will be questioned whether they support holding sexual orientation workshops in schools without their consent or whether they believe that sex reassignment procedures should be promoted among children. The prime minister specified that the questions will in turn be about whether the content that affects the sexual orientation of children should be offered without restrictions and if the sex reassignment procedures should be available to minors.

In his appearance before the press on Thursday, his chief of staff used a more conciliatory tone, stating that, for Hungary, “there are many more arguments in favor of joining the European Union than against. Entering the EU was the right decision in the national interest and it continues to be that way ”. However, Gulyas has also defended the right of his country to “make decisions on its own” in matters in which the powers have not been transferred to the European institutions.

Orbán's chief of staff has later specified that his country continues to dialogue with the European Commission about its national recovery plan and that both are still seeking an agreement. Gulyas alluded to the 7.2 billion euros of the EU plan to recover from the pandemic for Hungary, which Brussels had decided to keep on hold before opening the infringement file against Budapest on July 15. The senior Hungarian official has assured that his government is beginning to pre-finance projects of this recovery plan from the national budget.

On Tuesday, the European Commission listed its concerns about Hungary, and also Poland, in its annual report on the rule of law. Their conclusions will be taken into account when deciding whether or not to unlock the million-dollar items that the EU planned to allocate to these two countries to help their economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The homophobic drift of these two countries is one of the main concerns of Brussels, along with attacks on judicial independence and corruption. The Commission considers that the law that prohibits the dissemination of LGTBI content in Hungary is incompatible with “human dignity, freedom of expression and information, the right to respect for private life and the right to non-discrimination”, in addition to violating several directives community.

The opening of the file to Hungary is the first step in a process that can end in the Court of Justice of the EU and have as a consequence the suspension of European funding to this country. At the end of last year, Brussels was endowed with a regulation of conditionality to the rule of law, which allows for the first time to suspend funds to countries where the proper management of community resources is not guaranteed by the absence of adequate administrative structures, audit or judicial. The norm was born precisely with the aim of stopping the authoritarian drift in countries such as Hungary or Poland.

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