Hungary Amends Constitution Targeting Gays, War and Public Funds

Hungary’s parliament approved a package of laws that curtail the rights of gays, detail rules governing war times and loosen oversight of public funds.

The new legislation, enshrined in a constitutional amendment, continues Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s march away from the European Union’s mainstream. It comes days after the nationalist leader lifted his veto threat that, along with Poland’s, had held up the bloc’s $2.2 trillion spending over their objections to tying funding to whether members uphold the rule of law.

The legislation was approved Tuesday in parliament, where Orban’s lawmakers hold a two-thirds majority that allow them to pass any law without opposition support. The bills were first unveiled a month ago, on the eve of the introduction of new virus curbs during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The goal is to protect our children, not to curtail the rights of certain social groups,” Justice Minister Judit Varga said in a Facebook post about the amendment.

The new measures:

  • Bar gays from marrying or adopting children
  • Effectively rule out legal changes to a person’s gender
  • Restrict the definition of public funds to state revenue, spending and liabilities
  • Introduce the concept of the state of war, which parliament can declare

The laws dash hopes that the resolution of the EU’s budget battle would pressure Orban back into the fold by potentially threatening billions of euros in funding cuts.

Underscoring the divide, the EU’s biggest political group, the European People’s Party, is scheduled on Wednesday to consider whether to expel from its ranks the head of Orban’s Fidesz party in the caucus, Tamas Deutsch, who had alleged that the group’s chairman used “Gestapo” methods in the rule-of-law debate. He later apologized.

Deutsch’s potential expulsion may trigger Fidesz’s exit from the EPP, the umbrella group in which Orban shared a political tent with the likes of German Chancellor . The EPP already suspended the membership of Fidesz in 2019.

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