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Anti-LGBT constitution, ‘family protection’ law in Hungary come into force

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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BUDAPEST — Tens of thousands of LGBT people joined the opposition parties Monday in Budapest, Hungary for mass protests against the country’s new anti-gay Constitution and Law.

On January 1, a new homophobic constitution and law came into force in Hungary — the constitution now bans same-sex couples from marriage while the new “Family Protection” law defines the family as a heterosexual unit and stipulates that media services should broadcast programs that respect the institution of marriage and family.

The constitution that was voted on April 18 has thus now come into force; Article L of the constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, while Article XV.2 excludes sexual orientation from the protected grounds of discrimination (but does have provision for protection on the basis of race and gender).

In essence the new constitution would make it very difficult for LGBT people to gain marriage equality in the near future and provides no protection for LGBT people from unfair dismissal or hate crimes.

In addition, the power of constitution courts has been curbed — previously a law/act that might be argued as discriminatory could be annulled by petitioning to the constitutional courts via a non-governmental organization (NGO) or Civil Society Organizations.

Speaking with LGBTQ Nation, Tamás Dombos, from Háttér Support Society for LGBT People, said, “This is how we passed the law of cohabitation for same-sex couples in 1995 and equalized the age of consent in 2002. The new constitution will no longer enable NGOs or civil society organisation to launch such campaigns in the constitutional courts.”

The Family Protection Bill proposed by four Members of Parliament of the Christian Democratic Party, and voted as law on Dec.23, states:

“Art 7. (1) When applying this law family shall mean the relationship between natural persons in an economic and emotional community that is based on a marriage between a woman and a man, or lineal descent, or family-based guardianship.

“(2) Lineal descent is established by way of filiation or adoption.”

The law reiterates that the life of the fetus starts with the moment of conception, that preparing for family life should be part of school curriculum, and that media services should broadcast programs that respect the institution of marriage and family.

Dombos stated that “the Family Protection Bill basically excludes same sex couples, and makes provisions on inheritance which may result in registered same-sex partners losing their rights to inheritance.”

In addition Dombos stressed that: ”the law also states that all ‘media services should broadcast programs that respect the institution of marriage and family’, that ‘sounds’ neutral but we are concerned it would be used in the media and internet against any material that has a pro-LGBT point of view.”

Ten of thousands of people protested together, including from LGBT and opposition parties, such as the Socialist and Greens, against the new constitution and law.

“Despite such bad news”, remarked Dombos, “there is a ray of hope, LGBT rights is now a mainstream issue embraced by the opposition.”

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