Anti-gay Hungary constitution becomes law

Published: January 3, 2012

LGBT activists in Hungary have protested together with opposition parties against the new constitution that restricts marriage to heterosexuals and fails to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The constitution came into force on 1 January.

Meanwhile a new Family Protection Bill (which is ‘cardinal law’ that requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, like the constitution, in order to be changed) has also come into force.

This Family Protection Bill defines the family unit as heterosexual and says that preparing for family life should be part of the school curriculum. In addition it stipulates that media services should broadcast programs that respect the institution of marriage and family.

Yesterday (2 January) tens of thousands of people – including from LGBT organisations – together with the opposition Socialist and Green parties protested against the constitution and family law in Budapest.

The constitution that was voted on 18 April 2011 has thus now come into force; Article L of the constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, while Article XV.2 excludes sexual orientation from the protected grounds of discrimination (but does have provision for protection on the basis of race and gender).

In essence the new constitution would make it very difficult for gay and lesbian people to gain marriage equality in the near future and provides no protection for LGBT people from unfair dismissal or hate crimes.

In addition, the power of constitution courts has been curbed. Previously a law or act could be annulled by petitioning to the constitutional courts via non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society organizations.

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