Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ bill an “affront to European values”

The LGBTQI community in Hungary is under threat (Pic: Budapest Pride / Facebook)

Human Rights Watch says that plans to amend the constitution in Hungary to ban adoption by LGBTQI couples are incompatible with European values.

On 10 November, the government introduced several constitutional amendments to parliament, including one to only allow married couples to adopt children, with the minister in charge of family policies able to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The bill effectively excludes same-sex couples, single people, and unmarried different-sex couples from adopting children (same-sex marriage is already Constitutionally illegal in Hungary). Human Rights Watch believes that the proposal “is designed to exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and families.”

The bill also includes language that stigmatises transgender people, stating that “children have the right to their identity in line with their sex at birth” and rejecting diversity and inclusivity by mandating that children’s upbringing should be “in accordance with the values based on our homeland’s constitutional identity and Christian culture.”

The ruling party, Fidesz, has a two-thirds majority in parliament, which is set to vote on the proposals within weeks.

Human Rights Watch called on the Hungarian Parliament to “resoundingly” reject the legislation and urged the European Commission to make clear that “the government’s latest slew of legal changes is not compatible in a European Union based on tolerance and nondiscrimination.”

“It seems nothing will derail this government from cruelly and pointlessly targeting one of the most marginalised groups in Hungarian society, not even soaring coronavirus infections and Covid-19 related deaths,” commented Lydia Gall, senior researcher in the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. “Under the pretext of combatting a misguided conception of ‘gender ideology,’ the government further restricts rights and stigmatises thousands of Hungarian citizens.”

In a statement, Budapest Pride condemned the bill as a “government actively promoting ideas and legislation that would harm the fundamental rights and quality of life of people.” It said that it and its allies “will continue to fight against these measures aiming to further humiliate LGBTQI people.”

The bill is the latest attack on the  LGBTQI community in Hungary. In May, parliament banned transgender and intersex people from legally changing their gender or sex assigned at birth. The restriction followed increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQI statements by high-ranking public officials, including Prime Minister Orban.

Just days after the adoption amendments were submitted to Hungary’s Parliament, the European Commission published its first-ever strategy to tackle continued and new discrimination against LGBTQI people in the EU.

Hungary’s justice minister, Judit Varga, rejected the strategy, saying that it represented a “seemingly limitless ideology [being] forced on Member States” and insisting that Hungary would reject any threats over its “protecting the traditional role of family and marriage.”

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