* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party wants to force children to be raised with conservative Christian values that exclude love and compassion for LGBT+ people
Luca Dudits is the communications officer at the Hatter Society, Hungary’s largest LGBT+ rights group
The Hungarian government continues its crusade against anyone outside in a heterosexual marriage who wants children. A newly proposed bill and amendment to the constitution would make single-parent adoption impossible, while stigmatising trans people and same sex couples raising children.
As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough to worry about, the Hungarian right-wing government has taken it upon themselves to increase LGBT+ people’s concerns and anxieties. With skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and deaths, Fidesz, the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban prioritises restricting LGBT+ rights over saving citizens.
"The mother is a woman, the father is a man,” reads the amendment. What looks nonsensical to include in the constitution at the first glance is actually another brick in Orban’s carefully built campaign against the LGBT+ community, this time to prevent same-sex couples from building a family.
It comes hand in hand with another law that would only allow married couples to adopt. Non-married people can be granted an exemption from the rule only by the special graces of the Minister for Family Policy.
Fidesz has been carefully constructing its campaign to push for a Christian, conservative, white, heterosexual married couple as not just the norm, but the legal and political expectation from the state.
Hungary’s constitution already only recognises families based on marriage, while explicitly excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage. The new bills and amendments would further cement heteronormativity in law and in society.
More and more countries around the world are legalising same-sex marriage and recognise that same-sex couples can be just as good parents of a child. Meanwhile, the Hungarian government pretends to be unaware that hundreds of same-sex couples already provide a loving, safe environment for their children in Hungary.
Orban himself said recently in a radio interview, “There is a red line that homosexuals should not cross ... leave our children alone.”
The quote above was a direct response to the question: what does he think of the far-right politician shredding a fairy tale book at a press conference?
The crime of the book in question, ’A Fairy Tale For All’, was to tell stories about under-represented characters: disabled heroes, Roma princesses and lesbian witches, or non-nuclear families. It sparked the most heated debate around a children’s book in Hungarian history. Politicians demanded the book be banned and far-right groups called for a boycott of and abuse against all shops selling it.
Arguably, or at least arguably in the case of Hungary, the duty of a Prime Minister is to represent and protect the fundamental rights of their citizens. Not in the case of Orban.
Instead of condoning the incitement to hatred, he made a clear distinction. To Orban, there’s “us”, the nation, and then there’s “them”, LGBT+ people.
But the government still did not stop there.
A proposed new amendment to the constitution states, “Hungary protects children's right to their identity in line with their birth sex, and their right to education according to our country's constitutional identity and system of values based on Christian culture."
After banning legal gender recognition for trans and intersex people in May, they now plan to entrench the stigmatisation of trans identities in the constitution.
The proposal also forces parents and educational institutions to raise and educate children in a Christian-conservative spirit, which, according to government politicians, does not include love and compassion towards LGBT+ people. It would also make LGBT+ school education impossible.
These proposed bills, that have no chance of failing due to Fidesz’s majority in parliament, further exclude anyone who doesn’t fit into their Christian-conservative ideal.
NGOs remain the last resort for many of those affected. Our work has not been easy in the last decade and members of the community now rely on us more than ever. But we will continue our fight for the rights of the LGBT+ community and to raise awareness of the recent crusade against LGBT+ people.