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Hungary is planning to introduce a series of laws that will negatively impact the LGBTI-community. The Parliamentary Initiative came right after the introduction of a lockdown to combat the coronavirus with a curfew at 8pm. Hungarian activists feel exhausted.

Next to the abolishment of the Equal Treatment Authority, the Hungarian government is planning to change the constitution. “Christian upbringing” and the “right to grow up as your assigned sex at birth” will be added to Hungary’s Fundamental Law. There will also be a sentence about gender binary and that your gender equals your sex at birth.

In practice, the changes will constitutionally ban legal gender changes (something that has been banned by law earlier this year). It would also prevent schools from organising LGBTQI-equality workshops, since schools should “provide education in accordance with the values based on Hungary’s constitutional identity and Christian culture”

Same sex adoption to be banned.

The proposal uses the following argument: “New, modern ideological processes in the Western world – which raise doubts about the non-creation of men and women – threaten the right of children to healthy development enshrined in the Hungarian Constitution. 

“In order to guarantee this specially named right of children, it is necessary to ensure the right of the child to the identity corresponding to the sex of birth, which the state must protect by all means at its disposal. Birth is not a gift that can be changed: people are born male or female. And human dignity thus includes the right of every child to a self-identity, appropriate to his or her sex at birth, part of which is to enjoy protection against mental or biological interference that affects his or her physical and mental integrity.”

Equal Treatment Authority.

According to the plan to abolish the Equal Treatment Authority, the tasks of the institution will be taken over by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. Since September 2019, this position has been held by Ákos Kozma, former professor of Pázmány Catholic University, a loyal supporter of the ultraconservative government.

As opposed to his predecessor, the new Commissioner has not commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in May 2020, and has not responded to official petitions submitted by LGBTQI organisations concerning the ban of legal gender recognition, growing homophobic hate speech by government officials and restricting LGBTQI freedom of expression. In recent months several staff members have left the Office of the Commissioner complaining that they can no longer perform their tasks according to professional standards.

Yesterday (10 November), the Justice Committee voted in favour of putting forward the bill, so it is now an official bill on the agenda of the Parliament. The timeline for debating the bill in Parliament is not yet set. There has been no request for an urgent procedure so far, so a final vote on the bill is expected in about three weeks’ time. The Equal Treatment Authority would be abolished in less than two months, on  1 January 2021. There have been no public consultations or impact assessment carried out about the reform.

Democratic backlash.

The Hungarian ruling party abuses the attention on COVID-19 to wipe the Constitution. During the first lockdown, the Parliament adopted Article 33 – which banned legal gender changes. This time, the Parliament wants to go a step further – by amending the Constitution.

By silently reforming Hungary into an ultraconservative Christian cult, the government of Viktor Orban has one goal: abolishing democracy. Orban is constantly attacking the European Union. At the same time his administration is (re)establishing the ties with Russia. From LGBTQI-issues to energy plants, the Hungarian government chooses Moscow over Brussels.

This is the last chance for Europe, and for the Hungarian people, to stand up for democracy and fundamental rights. A Europe without values is not worthy to be called a Union.

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Rémy Bonny

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