Hungary wants to shield gender in the Constitution: ‘The mother is a woman, the father is a man’

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The government of ultra-conservative Viktor Orbán presented a bill that also seeks to prohibit adoption by homosexual couples.

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, just before a partial lockdown began in Hungary due to the coronavirus, the ultra-conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent bills to Parliament on the electoral system, sex and adoption of children, and other issues, which provoked outrage in the opposition, and alarm among homosexual people.

That same Tuesday Orbán had received powers from Parliament to govern by decree 90 days before the second wave of the pandemic, so the texts will be debated and voted upon when parliamentary activity returns. But its future approval is taken for granted given the supermajority of two thirds that Fidesz, Orbán’s party has.

The legislative offensive includes a legal extension of the party’s requirements to go to the polls, which in practice makes it difficult for the opposition to ally itself against the ruling party; and an amendment to the Constitution to establish that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man”, with the definitive veto on the adoption of children by homosexual and transsexual couples.

There is also a proposal for rules on public funds that, according to its critics, will make the way in which they are allocated more opaque.

The Ministry of Justice sent to Parliament in the last minutes of Tuesday the constitutional plan on mother and father, with definition of sex indicated at birth.

“Hungary protects the right of children to identify themselves on the basis of their sex,” says the text, which specifies that “education is provided in accordance with values ​​based on Hungarian constitutional identity and Christian culture.”

The proposed law provides that only heterosexual couples can adopt children. The Constitution promoted by Orbán and in force since 2011 already defines marriage as the union of a woman and a man. Therefore, homosexuals in Hungary cannot marry, but currently a single person can adopt, through which gays and lesbians could access adoption, with only one member of the couple applying.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Háttér advocacy group for LGBTQ groups said that “the moment chosen is not accidental; proposals that severely limit legal rights and go against basic international and European human rights come at a time when protests are not allowed ”due to the pandemic.

On the other hand, the amendment to the electoral law sent to Parliament by the Ministry of Justice at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday would force the parties to present candidates in at least 50 constituencies (now the figure is 27) in order to be able to compete with one list nationwide.

According to the opposition, this seeks to prevent their parties from agreeing to a single joint candidate in each constituency for the 2022 elections. By allying themselves in this way, opposition parties managed to seize several mayoralties from Fidesz in the municipal elections of November 2019, including the one of Budapest, whose mayor is since then the green Gergely Karácsony.

“In the midst of the pandemic, the government should focus its efforts on the crisis and saving lives, but instead it takes desperate measures without consultation,” the six opposition parties said in a joint statement.

The partial confinement and the curfew – since Wednesday it is not possible to leave the house between eight at night and five in the morning, except for just cause – make it impossible for there to be demonstrations in the streets.

By María-Paz López, correspondent for La Vanguardia in Berlin

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