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Author: Jade MacEwan
Photo by Andrew Kondrakov on Unsplash

The government of Hungary has recently proposed an amendment to the constitution to ban adoption by same-sex couples. If the amendment is passed, it will mean that only married couples will now be able to adopt children, and it specifically states that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man”. The proposal was made by the governing party, Fidesz, with the intention that children be raised with what Fidesz views as a “Christian” view of the family and gender roles (BBC, 2020).

As same-sex marriage is not legal in Hungary, the new amendment means that same-sex couples will not be able to adopt children, even if only one partner legally adopts the child as a single person. While the amendment will allow for single people to adopt in special cases, those single people would only be able to legally adopt with special permission from the minister in charge of family affairs. If passed, the amendment would become law in January 2021 (The Independent, 11.11.2020).

The Hungarian government made the proposal on the 11th of November, only moments before Hungary entered a new lockdown to curb rising cases of Covid-19 as part of a new 90-day “state of emergency”, in which the government can issue decrees relating to Covid-19 without the approval of parliament. The timing of this proposal mirrors that of anti-LGBT+ legislation introduced during the first “state of emergency” due to Covid-19 in spring, in which legal recognition of gender change was banned, meaning that trans, non-binary and intersex people are now forbidden to change their name or gender on official documents. The government is facing pressure due to its handling of the pandemic and rising Covid-19 cases, and its attacks on LGBT+ people may be a way to distract from this and to remain popular with its voters (The Guardian, 2020).

Háttér Társaság (Háttér Society), a Hungarian LGBT+ rights group, pointed out that the timing of the proposal coincided with a ban on protests due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Háttér Társaság explained that a number of government politicians had spoken out against adoption by same-sex couples in the past two years, but the proposal to ban adoption for same-sex couples has been made now as people will be unable to protest against a severe attack on their basic human rights (The Independent, 11.11.2020). As In addition to banning adoption by same-sex couples, the proposal also attacks transgender, non-binary and intersex people, as it states that “children have the right to their identity in line with their sex at birth”. Lydia Gall, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch has condemned the proposal, saying that, “it seems nothing will derail this government from cruelly and pointlessly targeting one of the most marginalised groups in Hungarian society, not even soaring coronavirus infections and Covid-19 related deaths” (The Independent, 18.11.2020).

Although single people will theoretically still be allowed to adopt with special permission, the Hungarian government’s definition of the family as a married husband and wife and their children means that, in practice, the new proposal is an attack on single-parent families and single people wishing to adopt as well as an attack on same-sex couples, and will make it almost impossible for any single person to adopt a child. Currently, over 500,000 children are living in single-parent families, and these families are already discriminated against in the family allowance and tax system. In addition to the proposal, which will be voted on in early December, the Equal Treatment Authority, which has been critical of government ministers, will also be abolished (BBC, 2020).

If passed, the proposal will be the ninth amendment to the constitution made since the current Hungarian government came to power under prime minister Viktor Orban in 2010 (The Independent, 18.11.2020).

Links to Resources:

Batchelor, T. (November 11, 2020). Hungary proposes ban on same-sex adoption as critics accuse Orban of distracting from pandemic. The Independent.

Skopeliti, Clea. (November 18, 2020). Hungary to restrict adoption by LGBT+ people, in latest ‘populist’ move. The Independent.

Thorpe, N. (November 11, 2020). Hungary government proposes same-sex adoption ban. BBC.

Walker, S. (November 11, 2020). Hungarian government mounts new assault on LGBT rights. The Guardian.

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