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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Xinhua News Agency/PA Images A Christmas tree is lit in front of Hungary's Parliament building in Budapest.
Viktor Orban

Hungarian parliament votes to redefine meaning of 'family' - which bars same-sex couples from adopting

Bans on changing your gender, or teaching third-level gender-studies courses are place in Hungary.

THE HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT has approved a package of new measures targeting the country’s LGBTQ community, the government’s latest salvo in defence of “traditional” values.

One law overwhelmingly passed by MPs loyal to the nationalist, culturally conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban effectively bars same-sex couples from adopting children by restricting adoption to married couples.

Exceptions to the ban will have to be approved by the minister for family affairs.

The government has sharpened its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months, with Orban commenting in October that people who are gay should “leave our children alone” when discussing a row over a children’s book containing gay characters.

Today, MPs also approved a change to its constitution reading: “The mother is a woman, the father is a man.”

The government explained the change by saying “new ideological processes in the West” made it necessary to “protect children against possible ideological or biological interference”.

The same amendment defines children’s sex as that assigned to them at birth and “ensures the upbringing of children according to… (Hungary’s) Christian culture”.

In May, a ban on legally changing one’s gender came into force, with rights groups warning this would expose transgender Hungarians to discrimination.

In 2018, a government decree effectively banned universities from teaching courses on gender studies.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said that the constitution “now protects families and children in a unique way, even in Europe”, adding it would ensure children’s “undisturbed development”.

‘Dark day’

Hungary director of Amnesty International David Vig said that “these discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic new laws are just the latest attack on LGBTQ people by Hungarian authorities”.

“This is a dark day for Hungary’s LGBTQ community and a dark day for human rights,” Vig said in a statement issued with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and the TGEU trans rights organisation.

The constitution adopted after Orban came to power had already defined marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.

A key figure in the drafting of that document, Jozsef Szajer, resigned as an MEP last month after being caught at what Belgian police said was an illegal all-male sex party that breached virus lockdown rules.

Apart from brief statements condemning Szajer’s actions, the government and the pro-Orban press have largely ignored the embarrassing scandal and continued espousing their culturally conservative messages.

Also on Tuesday MPs passed a change to Hungary’s electoral law which means that parties wishing to contest national elections will have to stand candidates in at least 14 out of 19 provinces and put forward a much higher number of individual candidates than previously required.

The government says this is to prevent sham parties claiming state funds.

However, many in the opposition suspect the real purpose is to hinder the chances of allied opposition candidates standing against Orban’s Fidesz party in particular seats in the next legislative elections in 2022.

A poll conducted last week put a hypothetical joint opposition list marginally ahead of Fidesz.

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