Hungarian Lawmakers Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Monday April 18, 2011

Hungarian lawmakers approved a new constitution on Monday, April 18, that includes a ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Parliamentarians passed the measure by a 262-44 margin. The new constitution also contains an amendment that protects the life of a fetus from conception; but conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the bill will spur Hungary's sluggish economy, curb government corruption and mismanagement and allow the former Communist country to complete its transition to democracy.

"We've just participated in a historical moment," Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover told the Associated Press after lawmakers approved the bill. "The new constitution is built upon our past and traditions, but seeks and contains answers to current problems while keeping an eye on the future."

LGBT activists protested the marriage amendment outside the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest on Friday, April 15. Tams Dombos of the LGBT advocacy group Httr told EDGE after the protest that Orban's opposition to marriage equality should not surprise anyone.

Hungary has allowed same-sex couples to register as domestic partners since July 2009; but the anti-gay political party Jobbik gained Parliament seats in last April's elections. Nationalists and even neo-Nazis have even disrupted several recent Budapest Pride marches.

Dobos said LGBT Hungarians have become more involved as "the situation worsens" for them in the country. Marriage equality in Hungary, however, is not anywhere on the immediate horizon.

"We still don't have marriage, but 10 years from now we could if we have a change in the government," said Dombos.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.