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Parliament passes the 9th Amendment to the Fundamental Law

December 17th, 2020

While the opposition concentrates its critique of the constitutional amendments on gay rights, a centrist political analyst believes they have picked the wrong target.

On Tuesday, in the ninth amendment to the Fundamental Law in as many years, Parliament defined the notion of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The House added to the existing constitutional definition of a family, that ‘the father is a man, the mother is a woman’. In a separate act, it was stipulated that as a rule, only married couples can be authorised to adopt children. (Same-sex couples may unite in a civil union but cannot get married. Individuals, who until now were able to adopt children, will now need a special dispensation to do so from the Minister herself.)

In a highly emotional first reaction to the amendment, Kriszta D. Tóth, editor of WMN online magazine excoriates the government side for what she sees as an attempt to tell people how to conduct their personal lives. ’You stigmatize people because of their feelings, thoughts, desires and beliefs’, she writes.

In his video report on Szabad Európa (Free Europe), a multimedia website launched this year by Radio Liberty/Free Europe (See BudaPost, March 2), Márton Pál interviews a gay couple who say they couldn’t adopt a child because the law now makes that dependent on a decision by the competent Cabinet Minister (the law refers to single people as no longer entitled to adopt children –  and same-sex couples are legally a pair of singles). Katalin Novák, Cabinet Minister of Family Affairs says in the same report that nothing is more natural than the idea of a marriage being a union of a man and a woman and that the father is a man while the mother is a woman.

On Index, political analyst Attila Tibor Nagy thinks the political and media opposition have missed the target. Their narrative has so far framed the government as increasingly authoritarian, and the amendments provided them with new ammunition to support that view. The legislative package made it easier, for instance, to introduce a state of emergency. Instead, the first attacks launched by the opposition target the issue of same-sex marriage, thus playing into the government’s hands. Hungarians in fact are conservative on such issues and have always denied a majority to parties which advocated without reservation the adoption of ‘such modern western values’, Nagy writes.

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