Hungary has written ‘the mother is a woman, the father is a man’ into its constitution as the country brings in a ban on gay couples adopting children.
The country’s MPs approved new measures targeting the country’s beleaguered LGBTQ community yesterday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s 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 amendment defines children’s sex as that assigned to them at birth and ‘ensures the upbringing of children according to… [Hungary’s] Christian culture’.
MPs loyal to the nationalist Prime Minister also overwhelmingly voted in favour of a law effectively banning same-sex couple from adopting.
It comes just weeks after Hungarian anti-LGBT MEP Jozsef Szajer resigned after he was caught climbing out of a window naked when police raided an illegal gay sex party in the rue des Pierres in Brussels, Belgium.
Hungary has written ‘the mother is a woman, the father is a man’ into its constitution as it banned gay couples from adopting children yesterday. Pictured: People march with their rainbow colours from the parliament building in Budapest for Pride last year
The new law restricts adoption to married couples as part of the cultural conservative Prime Minister’s push for ‘traditional values’.
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 homosexuals should ‘leave our children alone’ when discussing a row over a children’s book containing gay characters.
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.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s (pictured) government explained the change by saying ‘new ideological processes in the West’ made it necessary to ‘protect children against possible ideological or biological interference’
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’.
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 (ILGA) 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.
On Monday, Minister for Families Katalin Novak 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 criticised by feminist activists.
The anti-LGBTQ measures in Hungary came on the same day that an ILGA report found that despite significant progress on gay rights around the world, dozens of countries still criminalise consensual same-sex activity and others have erected legal barriers to freedom of expression on LGBTQ issues.
Jozsef Szajer, who helped write Hungary’s conservative constitution, allegedly tried to flee the 25-person orgy on Friday night by climbing through a window and shinning down a drainpipe. He reportedly hurt himself in the process and was caught by police, when he then tried to claim diplomatic immunity before being let off with a warning
The constitutional amendment effectively banning adoption by same-sex couples in Hungary is mentioned in the report as an example of a negative development.
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.
Viktor Orban: The Right-wing strongman who has reduced Hungary to authoritarianism by cracking down on press freedoms and restricting civil liberties
Viktor Orban is Hungary’s longest-serving premier, having ruled the eastern European country continuously since 2010
Orban was born in Székesfehérvár in May 1963, studying law before entering Hungarian politics in the wake of the 1989 Revolutions which swept through the former USSR at the end of the Cold War.
In the same year, he demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary in a speech which shot him to national fame. As Hungary transitioned to democracy in 1990, Orban was elected to the country’s National Assembly and served as the leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary caucus until 1993. The party underwent a political shift under his leadership, away from its liberal and pro-European integration platform towards Right-wing nationalism.
Orban was appointed prime minister for the first time after the 1998 election. He was ejected from high office after losing the 2002 election to the Socialist Party, and became Leader of the Opposition for the period until his landslide election victory in 2010 — as the government fell out of favour with the public following the 2008 financial crisis.
Orban then formed a coalition with the Christian Democrats to gain a super-majority in the National Assembly, which he used to ram through major constitutional and legislative reforms.
Orban’s critics, who have included Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, and Jean-Claude Juncker, have accused him of pursuing anti-democratic reforms, cracking down on press freedoms, reducing the independence of the judiciary and central bank, cronyism, and amending the constitution to prevent amendments to Fidesz-backed legislation.
During the 2015 migrant crisis which rocked Europe, Orban ordered the erection of a Serbo-Hungarian barrier to block the entry of illegal migrants so that Hungary could register migrants arriving from Serbia. At the time, migrants were passing into Hungary from Serbia, which had a responsibility under the Dublin Regulation to register the migrants.
Orban has openly promoted the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, stating: ‘If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future and we take this as given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others.’ Writing about the EU’s immigration policy, Orban said: ‘Europe’s response is madness. We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation’.
Orban’s policy on migration was criticised by businessman George Soros, who said: ‘His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle.’ The Hungarian government began attacking Soros and his NGOs in 2017, particularly for his support for more open immigration.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian parliament voted 137 to 53 to pass laws creating a state of emergency without a time limit, granting Orban the power to rule by decree and suspend the parliament with no elections. Under the state of emergency, Orban could also impose prison sentences for spreading ‘fake news’ and breaches of Covid-19 quarantine. The law granting the power to rule by decree was lifted on June 16.