“Darkest Spot in Europe” for LGBT People: Hungary
Straddling the banks of the Danube in central Hungary, Budapest is one of Europe’s most delightful cities with its artistic abundance of concerts, galas, exhibitions, and large bath complexes. Yet this attractive picture sharply contrasts with the recent protests against the anti-gay laws that have come into effect in January of this year.
- North Carolina bans gay marriage
- California’s gay marriage ban, Prop 8 delayed by US federal court
- French Constitutional Court upholds same-sex marriage ban
On January 2, 2012, tens of thousands of Hungarians gathered around the opera house to protest the new constitution. Passed by the government of Premier Viktor Orban (a.k.a. The Viktator), this new charter conveys a right-wing agenda that sends chills down the spine of Hungarians. The controversial reforms limit the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples, and expose the LGBT community to discrimination and unchecked hate crimes.
“Hungary’s new constitution, as written, puts it at odds with many of its human rights obligations,” said Amanda McRae, a Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch. It also establishes the grounds for a series of legislation that can clearly undermine or suppress the rights of minorities, including women and people with disabilities. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, socialist MP Tibor Szanyi told reporters, “Viktor Orban and his servants turned Hungary from a promising place to the darkest spot in Europe.”
Indeed, since it gained power in April 2010, the Fidesz party has pushed for an über-conservative agenda, particularly with the passage of the Family Protection Bill. Submitted by three Christian Democratic MPs, this discriminatory law declares that traditional family values should be included in the school curriculum and media services ought to broadcast programs that respect and promote the institution of marriage and family. Especially alarming is that the bill would require a parliamentary majority of two thirds in order to change its content at any future point.
Following the same homophobic path as Russia, Hungary risks falling back into a totalitarian regime, in spite of its current status as a member of the European Union. Both the constitution and the Family Protection Bill maintain that LGBT people are second-class citizens, and that the fight for full equality is off the table. At least for now, LGBT Hungarians still have the 2007 registered partnership, which gives them many of the same rights as heterosexual couples except for adoption and the ability to take the same last name.
Tamás Dombos, an activist with Háttér Support Society for LGBT People, told 2B mag that they are ready to turn to the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights if future laws cut back on the rights of registered partners or unregistered cohabiting partners. Regarding the Constitution, Dambos says, “Unfortunately, there is not much that we can legally do against the heterosexual definition of marriage in the Constitution: the European Court of Human Rights clearly said two years ago, that Member States currently have no duty to open marriage for same-sex couples.” However, there may be hope for the Hungarian LGBT community as the European Commission has just launched legal action against Hungary over its new constitution.