Hungarian MPs endorse package of anti-LGBTQ measures

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Budapest (AFP)

Hungarian MPs on Tuesday approved a package of new measures targeting the country’s beleaguered LGBTQ community, the government’s latest volley in favor of “traditional” values.

A law passed overwhelmingly by MPs loyal to the nationalist and culturally conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban effectively bars same-sex couples from adopting children by restricting adoption to married couples.

Exceptions to the ban will have to be approved by the Minister of Family Affairs.

The government has sharpened its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months, with Orban commenting in October that gays should “leave our children alone” when discussing an argument over a children’s book featuring gay characters.

On Tuesday, the deputies also approved a modification of the constitution: “The mother is a woman, the father is a man”.

The government explained the change by saying that “new ideological processes in the West” made it necessary to “protect children from possible ideological or biological interference”.

The same amendment defines the sex of children as that assigned to them at birth and “ensures the education of children according to… Christian culture (of Hungary)”.

In May, a ban on legally changing sex went into effect, with rights groups warning that it would expose transgender Hungarians to discrimination.

In 2018, a government decree effectively banned universities from offering courses in gender studies.

– ‘Dark day’ –

David Vig, Hungarian director of Amnesty International, said that “these new discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic laws are just the latest attack on LGBTQ people by the Hungarian authorities”.

“It is a dark day for the LGBTQ community in Hungary and a dark day for human rights,” said Vig.

The constitution adopted after Orban came to power had already defined marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.

A key figure in the drafting of this document, Jozsef Szajer, resigned his post as MEP last month after being trapped in what Belgian police described as an illegal all-male sex party that broke lockdown rules virus.

Besides brief statements condemning Szajer’s actions, the pro-Orban government and press largely ignored the embarrassing scandal and continued to espouse their culturally conservative messages.

Family Minister Katalin Novak sparked an uproar on Monday with a video post on her Facebook page in which she said women shouldn’t always try to compete professionally with men.

“Do not think that at every moment or in our life, we all have to compare ourselves and have the same job, the same salary as the other,” Novak said in her remarks, criticized by feminist activists.

Also on Tuesday, MPs passed an amendment to the country’s electoral law, which means parties wishing to run in national elections will have to field candidates in at least 14 of the 19 provinces and present a much higher number of individual candidates than previously required.

The government says it is to prevent bogus parties from claiming public funds.

However, many members of the opposition suspect that the real aim is to hamper the chances of allied opposition candidates to run against Orban’s Fidesz party for particular seats in the upcoming legislative elections in 2022.

A poll carried out last week placed a hypothetical common opposition list slightly ahead of Fidesz.

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