‘Dark day for human rights’ as Hungary amends constitution to redefine ‘family’ and limit gay adoption

Hungary has amended what qualifies as a ‘family’ in its constitution, effectively banning adoption by same-sex couples in another win for the ruling right-wing coalition.

The amended Hungarian constitution now defines family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relationship”.

“The mother is a woman, the father a man,” it says.

It also directs parents to raise their children in a conservative tradition.

The constitution reads: “Hungary defends the right of children to identify with their birth gender and ensures their upbringing based on our nation’s constitutional identity and values based on our Christian culture”.

Hungary does not allow gay marriage – but does recognise civil unions.

Gay and lesbian couples were allowed to adopt until the recent change, if one person applied on their own rather than as a unit.

Single individuals in Hungary must get their adoption requests approved by the ultra-conservative family affairs minister, Katalin Novak.

While there are some exemptions for single people or family members to adopt young people, the “main rule is that only married couples can adopt a child, that is, a man and a woman who are married”, according to Hungary’s Justice Minister, Judit Varga.

She said: “Do not believe that us women should continuously compete with men.

“Do not believe that in every waking moment we must measure up and have at least as high positions or as large salaries as (men).”

Tuesday’s passing of legislation follows the green-light of a new law earlier in the year which banned gender change in personal documents.

Human rights groups have denounced the constitutional change and called on European leaders to speak out.

“This is a dark day for Hungary’s LGBTQ community and a dark day for human rights,” said David Vig, director of Amnesty Hungary.

Masen Davis from Transgender Europe is calling on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to examine the issue – particularly as the EU looks over Hungary’s rule of law record.

Luca Dudits from LGBTQ+ rights group Hatter Society believes the new amendment violates international human rights.

She says that a shortage of adoptive parents in the country means that a significant number of children are adopted abroad.

Further limiting that number will result in “more children remaining in state care or being adopted abroad where they cannot maintain their language or cultural identity.”

Ms Dudits is encouraging same-sex couples to initiate adoption processes “as if nothing happened” – with plans to challenge the new law on the grounds of equal treatment law.

She said: “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.”

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