Human rights groups on Wednesday condemned a new Hungarian law that effectively bans adoption for same-sex couples and applies a strict Christian conservative viewpoint to the legal definition of a family.
The amendment, passed by Hungary’s right-wing ruling coalition in parliament on Tuesday, alters the constitutional definition of families to exclude transgender and other LGBT individuals, defining the basis of the family as “marriage and the parent-child relationship,” and declaring that “the mother is a woman and the father is a man.”
The changes are the latest in a series of moves seen by critics as hostile to LGBT rights by Hungary’s nationalist ruling party Fidesz and its hardline leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has long said he was building an “illiberal” Christian democracy.
David Vig, director of rights group Amnesty Hungary, called the passage of the amendment “a dark day for human rights.”
Lawmakers from one opposition party boycotted the parliamentary vote in protest.
Same-sex marriage was constitutionally banned in Hungary in 2012, but civil partnerships are recognized. However, the new amendment declares that only married couples may adopt children, effectively barring same-sex couples or single individuals from doing so.
The amendment also tasks the state with “protecting the right of children to self-identity according to their sex at birth,” and mandates that children be raised “in accordance with the values based on Hungary’s constitutional identity and Christian culture.”
This week’s changes come on the heels of a scandal involving Jozsef Szajer, a member of the European Parliament and one of the founding members of Fidesz, who resigned after being caught by Brussels police attending an illegal lockdown party in late November described by its host as a gay orgy.
Police said that Szajer, who was one of the main authors of Hungary’s new 2012 constitution which limited LGBT rights, was caught with drugs in his backpack after attempting to flee the party. He later resigned from Fidesz.
In a press release on Tuesday, Budapest Pride, organizers of Hungary’s largest LGBT event, said the Szajer case demonstrated the hypocrisy of Fidesz’s Christian conservatism.
“It reveals what kind of behavior Fidesz considers ideal from society’s gay, lesbian and bisexual members: a double life built upon lies which displays the desired Christian-conservative heterosexual family model while actively working to deprive members of the LGBTQ community of their rights,” the group wrote.
A bill passed in May permanently defined one’s sex as the “biological sex determined by primary sex characteristics and chromosomes,” effectively disallowing transgender individuals from petitioning the government to change their names and genders in official documents. That law was sent to the Constitutional Court in November for review.
Leading politicians have compared same-sex adoption with pedophilia, and have frequently made openly homophobic statements. In an October radio interview discussing a popular children’s book that featured non-heterosexual characters, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Hungarians “are patient and tolerant” concerning homosexuality, but implied a connection between the LGBT community and child abuse.
“There is a red line which cannot be crossed. Leave our children alone!” Orban said.
Luca Dudits, a spokesperson for LGBT rights group Hatter Society, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the new amendment violates international human rights norms.
A shortage of adoptive parents in Hungary means many children are adopted abroad, Dudits said, and further restricting that number will result in “more children remaining in state care or being adopted abroad where they cannot maintain their language or cultural identity.”
Unmarried individuals may still apply to adopt children under the new amendment, but must receive special approval from Hungary’s minister of family affairs Katalin Novak, an ultra-conservative ruling party politician tasked with managing Hungary’s family policy.
Novak caused an uproar on Monday after appearing in a video encouraging women “not to believe that we must always compete with men … and have at least the same position and level of salary as others.”
Hatter Society is encouraging same-sex couples to initiate adoption procedures “as if nothing happened,” preparing to challenge the law on the grounds of the equal treatment law.
“Our legal aid service is prepared to act if any kind of discrimination is reported to us, and we are ready to challenge any unlawful rejections in court,” Dudits said.