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Hungarian Lawmakers Pass Law Effectively Banning Same-Sex Adoption


An advertisement promoting gay acceptance, which prompted a political backlash, is seen in Budapest in August 2019.
An advertisement promoting gay acceptance, which prompted a political backlash, is seen in Budapest in August 2019.

The nationalist-dominated Hungarian parliament has passed a law that effectively bans adoptions by same-sex couples as part of a package of new measures decried by human rights and LGBT rights defenders as "homophobic and transphobic."

The parliament, where the ruling right-wing Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has a two-thirds majority, passed the measure on December 15 by 134 votes to 45, with 5 abstentions.

According to the measure, only married couples can adopt children while single people must obtain special approval to adopt from the family affairs minister. Hungary does not allow gay marriage but recognizes civil unions.

Lawmakers also amended the constitution, with a dozen new rules including a new definition for family as the union of a father who is a man and a mother who is a woman, rewording the clause to exclude alternative family types.

The new legislation continues Orban’s march away from the European Union’s mainstream, coming days after the nationalist leader lifted his veto threat that, along with Poland’s, had held up the bloc’s $2.2 trillion spending over their objections to tying funding to whether members uphold the rule of law.

Although there are exceptions when single people or family members can adopt children, "the main rule is that only married couples can adopt a child, that is, a man and a woman who are married," Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote in the law. "The mother is a woman, the father is a man,” the law said.

"Hungary protects the institution of marriage...between a man and a woman, as well as the family as the basis for the survival of the nation."

Adoption by gay and lesbian couples had been possible until now if one partner applied as a single person.

David Vig, director of Amnesty Hungary, sharply criticized the new legislation as "discriminatory, homophobic, and transphobic." He added that it was "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," he said.

Katrin Hugendubel of the international advocacy group ILGA said that "these discriminatory, homophobic, and transphobic new laws are part of an ongoing attack on LGBTI people by Hungarian authorities."

Last month the New York-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch called the new legislation "an affront to European values."

In May, parliament banned legal gender recognition, effectively preventing transgender and intersex people in Hungary from legally changing their gender or sex assigned at birth.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Orban's Fidesz has been passing increasingly authoritarian policies in Hungary. The party campaigns for conservative Christian values and rails against lesbian, gay. bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

However, Orban's government was recently shaken by a scandal when European Parliament member Jozsef Szajer, one of the Fidesz founding members and a coauthor of the constitutional amendment that says marriage is only between a man and a woman, was caught by Belgian police while trying to flee a gay party in Brussels.

Following the November 27 incident, the 59-year-old Szajer, a close associate of Orban's and the husband of a Constitutional Court judge, resigned from both the European Parliament and Fidesz.

With reporting by Reuters and
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    RFE/RL's Hungarian Service

    RFE/RL’s Hungarian Service -- closed after the Cold War ended -- was relaunched on September 8, 2020, in response to the country’s steep decline in media freedom. It's an entirely digital service dedicated to serving the public interest by representing a diversity of views and providing reliable, unbiased reporting about the issues audiences care about most.