Right after parliament had approved the extension of the state of emergency, the government submitted an amendment to the Hungarian Constitution on Tuesday. The proposal, among others, states that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man,” and would make adoption almost impossible with a new amendment. The proposal states that a child, with the exception of adoption by relatives and the parent’s spouse, could only be adopted by married couples, on the grounds that “marriages are much more lasting than cohabitation agreements.”
The draft contains two amendments concerning the institution of family and raising children, further cementing the governing parties’ anti-LGBTQ attitude and conservative approach to families in the Constitution. The change is also a clear message to the recently unfolding debate in Hungary over the promotion of acceptance of the LGBTQI people among children.
The other change is related to the adoption law. With this, the government would make adoption almost impossible for singles or those living together without being married, as according to the proposal for the Civil Code, a child, with the exception of adoption by relatives and the parent’s spouse, could only be adopted by married couples, on the grounds that “marriages are much more lasting than cohabitation agreements.” In addition to making it impossible for singles to adopt, this could also result in non-married couples, even though living together for a significant amount of time, not being allowed to adopt a child, as it is only available for those who are married. This narrows the chances of those non-married couples to have children who cannot get pregnant – although it was a last resort for many of them before.
According to the amendment, exceptionally, in cases specified by law, and by a government decree, the suitability of non-married people for adoption can be determined, but the Minister of Family Policy (currently Katalin Novák), must agree on the unique suitability of the applicant before the guardianship authority can accept their application.
Although the new proposal excludes non-married heterosexual couples as well, many critics say its main aim is to prevent same-sex couples from adopting. According to Tamás Dombos, the administrator of the Háttér Társaság for the Protection of the Rights of LGBTQI People, the concrete legal consequence of the constitutional amendment should not be interpreted in itself, but rather together with the bill changing the rules of adoption submitted almost at the same time.
While the first states that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man,” the latter states that as a general rule, only married couples can adopt a child in Hungary. For same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry in Hungary, adoption as a single parent was so far the only way to adopt: one of them applied to be an adoptive parent, and although they did not hide from the guardianship office that their partner would help raise the child, they could officially adopt the child. However, according to Dombos, they think it is now sure that with the upcoming rule change, this possibility will be eliminated.
However, on the other hand, in May 2019, the Ministry of Justice wrote in a reply to the Háttér Társaság that “the purpose of conducting the pre-adoption proceedings is to determine whether the adopter is fit to adopt a child based on his or her personality and circumstances. Sexual orientation and gender identity are therefore not exclusionary circumstances.”
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