Hungary government proposes constitutional amendment mandating Christian gender roles

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s government proposed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday requiring children to be raised with a Christian interpretation of gender roles, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling nationalists turn to anti-LGBT rhetoric to shore up support.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

The draft amendment submitted to parliament by Justice Minister Judit Varga declares that children must be guaranteed an “upbringing based on values stemming from Hungary’s ... Christian culture.”

“The basis for family relations is marriage,” it says. “The mother is a woman, the father is a man.”

It also says Hungary “protects children’s right to the gender identity they were born with,” using language consistent with a government campaign to outlaw transgender identities.

Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party and his political allies, the small Christian democratic party KDNP, face elections in early 2022 with their grip on power potentially weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact.

In past years, Orban’s government has mostly focused on condemnation of immigration in Europe. But it has increasingly turned to anti-LGBT rhetoric as the pandemic hit the economy, following the example of the ruling nationalist PiS party in nearby Poland which made homophobia the centrepiece of its campaign in an election this year.

In May, Hungary banned gender changes in personal documents. It has also taken issue with children’s books that portray diversity positively.

In part of Tuesday’s bill explaining the justification for the new constitutional amendment, the government said it was needed to protect children “from new, modern ideological trends in the Western world ... that pose a threat to children’s right for healthy development”.

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said last week that Hungary should enshrine in its constitution a ban on “gender propaganda” to protect children. He also said gays should not be allowed to adopt children and start families.

The Hungarian LGBT community fears now that it could become the target of concerted political attacks ahead of the 2022 election.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Peter Graff