Hungarian president rejects new anti-LGBTQ+ bill targeting same-sex families

By vetoing the anti-LGBTQ+ bill, Hungarian president Katalin Novak displayed unusually sharp criticism of Orbán's government.

Hungarian president Katalin Novak, who recently vetoed an anti-LGBTQ+ law, speaking to a microphone in parliament.
Image: Via Twitter - @Marianna9110

Hungarian president Katalin Novak vetoed a new anti-LGBTQ+ bill which, if signed into law, would enable citizens to anonymously report same-sex families to authorities.

The bill in question was approved by the Hungarian parliament earlier this month. In theory, it aimed to transpose an EU directive into national legislation to protect whistleblowers and facilitate the reporting of corruption. However, the bill would also have made it possible for citizens to report those who challenge the “constitutionally recognised role of marriage and the family” and those who violate children’s rights “to an identity appropriate to their sex at birth.”

Because the Hungarian constitution explicitly recognises marriage as a union between “one man and one woman” and states that “the mother is a woman, the father a man”, it is essentially illegal for same-sex couples to marry and raise children in Hungary. The new law would have thus made it possible for ordinary citizens to report same-sex families to the authorities.

In a letter addressed to the National Assembly dated April 21, the Hungarian president stated that the bill with the anti-LGBTQ+ clause was to be sent back to parliament for reconsideration. Novak explained that the bill contained passages that were irrelevant to the original purpose of transposing EU law to facilitate the reporting of corruption and that it “does not strengthen but rather weakens the protection of fundamental values.”

Moreover, he stated that the bill “cites the protection of constitutional values to introduce vaguely-worded directives whose practical applicability and legal consequences are doubtful”.

Given that the president’s role in Hungary is largely ceremonial, lawmakers can still override Novak’s veto on the bill and proceed with making it law. However, Novak’s letter represents an unusually sharp rebuke of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from someone who has always otherwise been a loyal ally.

Before being elected in the 2022 presidential election, Novák was a member of Fidesz, Orbán’s party, and also served as Minister for Family Affairs in Orbán’s fourth government, which has been cracking down on LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary for years.

In 2021, the country passed the so-called “anti-LGBT propaganda” law, which banned all content with queer themes for those under 18. The anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has faced strong opposition, with the European Commission launching the largest human rights infringement procedure ever brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union against it. Ireland, together with other 14 member states, joined the case against Hungary earlier in March.

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