Hungary passes anti-LGBTQ+ constitutional amendments while 69 UN states still criminalise same-sex relations

As the parliament in Hungary passes anti-LGBTQ+ amendments, ILGA World reports 69 UN states still criminalise same-sex relations but progress being made.

Hungary LGBTQ amendments Hungarian parliament building with overlay of rainbow gradient

The Parliament in Hungary have passed a bill prohibiting adoption for non-married couples and two constitutional amendments which further restricts the rights of LGBTQ+ people. 

In a widespread attack against the Hungarian queer community, Parliament have passed amendments to the Constitution that strictly define “mother is a female and father is a male” and the country “protects self-identity of the children’s sex by birth.” The changes ban same-sex couples from adoption, gender recognition, and schools from holding LGBTQ+ workshops in a bid to uphold conservative Christian teachings.

Human rights organisations have spoken out against authorities in Hungary for their decision to pass these anti-LGBTQ+ amendments. Director of Amnesty Hungary, David Vig, stated, “This is a dark day for Hungary’s LGBTQ community and a dark day for human rights. These discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic new laws – rushed through under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic – are just the latest attack on LGBTQ people by Hungarian authorities.”

Speaking on how these anti-LGBTQ+ amendments further strip trans and intersex people of their rights, Executive Director at Transgender Europe, Masen Davis, said, “Earlier this year, Hungary made it impossible for trans people to change their names and legal gender marker. We are deeply concerned for the health and safety of trans children and adults in Hungary in such a hostile climate. We call upon EU Commission President von der Leyen to address the rights of LGBT parents, the attempt to erase gender diverse children, and the ban on legal gender recognition in the Commission’s rule of law assessment and on-going Article 7 TEU proceedings against Hungary.”

Justice Minister Judit Varga submitted the draft amendment on Tuesday, October 10, before a nationwide curfew at 8PM was introduced the following day. Human rights organisations and activists were deeply concerned over the timing as people were unable to gather in protest against the proposal due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Advocacy Director at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Katrin Hugendubel, shared, “These bills further restrict the rights of LGBTI children and parents in Hungary. LGBTI children will be forced to grow up in an environment which restricts them from being able to express their identities, and children across Hungary will be refused safe and loving families, as adoption is restricted only to married heterosexual couples. This attempt to rush through these discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic new laws are part of an ongoing attack on LGBTI people by Hungarian authorities.”

Following the Hungarian Parliament’s passing of anti-LGBTQ+ constitutional amendments, ILGA World’s Global Legislation Overview section of the State-Sponsored Homophobia report highlighted that 69 United Nations’ member states continue to criminalise consensual same-sex activity in 2020. However, it also noted there has been considerable progress being made in terms of legal protection for LGBTQ+ people worldwide. 

Reflecting on 2020 in regards to previous years, research coordinator at ILGA World and lead author of the report, Lucas Ramón Mendos, stated, “The figure dropped by one this year, as Gabon backtracked from the criminalising provision it passed in 2019 – which became the shortest-lived law of its kind in modern history. Moreover, last week Bhutan’s parliament approved a bill to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations, and may soon be signed into law.”

Across 2020, numerous governments and hate groups enforced anti-LGBTQ+ policies under the guise of COVID-19 measures. Director of Programmes at ILGA World, Julia Ehrt, expressed, “Many were left struggling to survive in a world that has become even more unequal and violent.For our communities, safe spaces dramatically shrunk overnight. Some governments took advantage of these circumstances and stepped up their efforts to oppress, persecute, scapegoat, and to violently discriminate against us. In many places where laws were already a cause of inequality, things have only got worse.”

Despite a rise in hate, ILGA World reports a noticeable spike in positive steps taken around protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination and violence during the past 12 months. Ehrt shared, “But each section of this report also contains hope for a better tomorrow – a future in which our communities will no longer have to fight to reclaim rights that should have never been taken away from us in the first place.”

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