Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a package of new measures targeting the country’s beleaguered LGBTQ community, the government’s latest salvo in defense of “traditional” values.
One law overwhelmingly passed by members of parliament loyal to the nationalist, culturally conservative government of Hungarian 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 saying in October that homosexuals should “leave our children alone” when discussing a row over a children’s book containing gay characters.
The lawmakers on Tuesday also approved a change to the 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.”
A ban on legally changing one’s gender came into force in May, with rights groups warning this would expose transgender Hungarians to discrimination.
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.”
Amnesty International’s Hungary director 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 (ILGA) and the TGEU trans rights organization.
A key figure in the drafting of that document, Jozsef Szajer, resigned as an member of the European Parliament last month after being caught at what Belgian police said was an illegal all-male sex party that breached COVID-19 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.
Hungarian Minister for Families Katalin Novak on Monday sparked an outcry with a video message on her Facebook page in which she said women should not always try to compete with men professionally.
“Don’t think that at every moment or our lives we have to all compare ourselves and have the same job, the same salary as the other,” Novak said in her remarks, which were criticized by feminists.
The lawmakers also on Tuesday passed a change to Hungary’s electoral law that means that parties wishing to contest national elections would 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.
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