LGBT rights in Hungary

LGBT rights in Hungary
Location of  Hungary  (dark green)

 in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
 in the European Union  (light green)   [Legend]

Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 1961,
age of consent equalized in 2002
Gender identity/expression Gender change is legal
Military service Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Unregistered cohabitation since 1996,
Registered partnerships since 2009
Same-sex marriage constitutionally banned
Adoption No joint adoption by same-sex couples; no adoption of same-sex partner's child

The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people in Hungary have evolved through Hungarian history. Homosexuality is legal in Hungary for both men and women. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is banned in the country. However, households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all of the same legal rights available to opposite-sex married couples. Registered partnership for same-sex couples was legalized in 2009, but same-sex marriage is banned.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

The first Hungarian Penal Code by Károly Csemegi (1878) punished homosexuality between men ("természet elleni fajtalanság" – perversion against nature (nature's law)) with prison up to 1 year. Homosexual activity above the age of 20 was decriminalized in 1961, then above the age of 18 in 1978 by the new Penal Code. The age of consent, which is 14, has applied equally to heterosexual and homosexual activity since a Constitutional Court decision of 2002. Gay and bisexual people are not banned from military service.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Unregistered cohabitation has been recognised since 1996. It applies to any couple living together in an economic and sexual relationship (common-law marriage), including same-sex couples. No official registration is required. The law gives some specified rights and benefits to two persons living together. Unregistered cohabitation is defined in the Civil Code as "when two persons are living together outside of wedlock in an emotional and financial community in the same household, provided that neither of them is engaged in wedlock or partnership with another person, registered or otherwise, and that they are not related in direct line, and they are not siblings." Inheritance is possible only with testament, widow-pension is available for couples cohabiting for more than 10 years.

On 17 December 2007, the Parliament adopted a registered partnership bill submitted by the Hungarian Socialist Party-Alliance of Free Democrats Government. The bill was found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court because it duplicated the institution of marriage for opposite-sex couples. In February 2009, the Parliament approval a modified version of the bill. Since 1 July 2009, same-sex couples can enter into registered partnerships. The law gives the same rights to registered partners as to spouses except for adoption, assisted reproduction or taking a surname.[1][2]

On 1 January 2012, a new constitution, enacted by the Parliament in 2011, came into effect, restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples and containing no guarantees of protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation.[3] Note, however, that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation remains banned through interpretation of the general non-discrimination provision in the Constitution, as well as by the Equal Treatment Act.

Adoption and family planning

Although same-sex couples cannot adopt jointly, adoption by individuals is legal regardless of sexual orientation or partnership status. Stepchild adoption is only available for married (different-sex) couples.

Access to IVF and donor insemination is available for single women regardless of sexual orientation, but not available for lesbians cohabiting or in a registered partnership with their same-sex partners.

In November 2017, the Hungarian Ombudsman found that the rejection of a lesbian couple's adoption application was "an infringement on the child's right to protection and care, and amounted to unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation." As joint adoption for same-sex couples isn't legal in Hungary, the couple decided that one of the partners would legally adopt the child. The couple was, however, very open about their relationship and were found suitable to adopt. During the following months, the couple took care of a 16-month-old girl, but later child protection service stopped the application procedure due to the couple's sexual orientation. This decision disrupted the life of the child, as she would not eat properly anymore and had to be taken to a child psychologist. The couple appealed to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights (the Ombudsman responsible for the rights of children, nationalities in Hungary, vulnerable social groups and the interests of future generations), who found the child protection service's rejection of the couple unlawful and discriminatory. The Commissioner said that "a person wishing to adopt has no right to adopt a particular child, but s/he does have the right to equal treatment and equality before the law in the procedure." The Commissioner based their decision on the 2008 E.B. v. France case, in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled that one's sexual orientation should not be a factor in adoption cases.[4]

Discrimination protections

In 2000, the Constitutional Court recognized that the constitutional ban on discrimination based on "other status" covers sexual orientation as well. The Act on Public Health has banned sexual orientation-related discrimination in health services since 1997 and gender identity-related discrimination since 2004.[5] The 2003 Act on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities, which took effect in January 2004, forbids discrimination based on factors that include sexual orientation and gender identity in the fields of employment, education, housing, health, and access to goods and services.[5]

Additionally, Hungarian law prohibits hate crimes and hate speeches on the basis of one's sexual orientation and gender identity.[5]

Gender identity and expression

Since 1 January 2018, transgender people living in Hungary have been able to change their legal gender. They still have to get a diagnosis, but they do not have to go through hormone therapy, sterilization or sex reassignment surgery.[6][5] The Equal Treatment Act specifically includes gender identity among the list of protected characteristics.

Since 28 June 2018, gender change applications have been temporarily suspended.[7]

Blood donation

Gay and bisexual men are allowed to donate blood following a 12-month deferral period.[8]

Living conditions

Hungary was the host country of Mr Gay Europe 2007 contest and the Eurogames in 2012.

Budapest Pride was the first such event in the former Eastern Bloc, and draws a steady, but a moderate number of LGBT people and their supporters. The LGBT festival lasts a week every summer with a film festival, a pride march and parties across the city. The festival was opened in the past by notable public figures including Gábor Demszky, then Mayor of Budapest, and Kinga Göncz, then Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In correlation with the prime ministership of Viktor Orbán, LGBT rights in Hungary have stalled. In March 2016, the Hungarian Government blocked a proposed EU agreement to combat discrimination against LGBT people.[9] In May 2017, Prime Minister Orbán welcomed the World Congress of Families, a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, at the National Parliament.[10]

In recent years, more and more politicians have resorted to use openly homophobic rhetoric.[11] In 2014, Jobbik displayed a sign reading "The Parliament Does Not Want Any Deviants" during Budapest Pride, and verbally abused attendees and defaced posters in support of LGBT rights. In November 2016, it protested the painting of a fence with rainbow colours in Pomáz, even though the colouring had no connections to LGBT rights.[12]

The 2017 Budapest Pride parade attracted thousands of people, and received the support of many embassies, including from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as neighbouring Slovakia and Slovenia, among others.[13]

In January 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that asylum seekers may not be subjected by authorities to psychological tests in order to determine their sexual orientation.[14]

Freedom of speech and expression

In 2012, Jobbik MP Adam Mirkoczki introduced a constitutional amendment to the Parliament seeking to ban "the promotion of sexual deviations". The amendment would punish the "promotion of homosexuality or other disorders of sexual behaviour" with up to 8 years in prison. LMBT Federation, a Hungarian LGBT advocacy group, protested against the amendment and called on Parliament to reject it. The Democratic Coalition also voiced their opposition and called it "mean and shameful".[15] The amendment ultimately failed to pass.

In November 2016, the small Hungarian town of Ásotthalom passed a law banning "gay propaganda", Muslim call to prayer and Muslim clothing. The Mayor called on Christians locals to support a "holy war on Muslims and multiculturalism".[16] In April 2017, after a lawsuit challenging the ban was filed, the Constitutional Court struck down the ban, ruling that it violated human rights law as it aimed to "limit directly the freedom of speech, conscience and religion".[17]

In June 2018, the Hungarian State Opera House cancelled 15 Billy Elliot performances, after a government newspaper claimed that the show could turn kids gay, a claim which has absolutely no scientific backing and is perceived as homophobic.[18][19]

Public opinion

Polls reflecting popular opinion on same-sex marriage in Hungary have shown a mixed picture.

According to a Eurobarometer survey published on December 2006, only 18 percent of Hungarians surveyed supported same-sex marriage, and only 13 percent recognized a same-sex couple's right to adopt, compared to the EU-wide average of 44 percent and 33 percent, respectively.[20] However, a poll conducted a year after in 2007 indicated that 30 percent of the Hungarian public supported same-sex marriage.[21]

The Eurobarometer poll taken in 2015 suggested 39% of Hungarians supported same-sex marriage. A more recent poll by the Pew Research Center, published in May 2017, suggested that 27% of Hungarians were in favor of same-sex marriage, while 64% opposed it. Support was higher among non-religious people (34%) and 18–34 year olds (39%), in contrast to Catholics (25%) and people aged 35 and over (23%).[22]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Hungary was ranked 49th with a GHI score of 47.[23]

According to a 2017 poll carried out by ILGA, 64% of Hungarians agreed that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should enjoy the same rights as straight people, while 15% disagreed. Additionally, 69% agreed that they should be protected from workplace discrimination. 13% of Hungarians, however, said that people who are in same-sex relationships should be charged as criminals, while 64% disagreed. As for transgender people, 60% agreed that they should have the same rights, 64% believed they should be protected from employment discrimination and a plurality of 48% believed they should be allowed to change their legal gender.[24]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal (Since 1961)
Equal age of consent (14) (Since 2002)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) (Since 2004)
Same-sex marriage (Constitutional ban since 2012)
Recognition of same-sex couples (Cohabitation since 1996, registered partnership since 2009)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples
Joint adoption by same-sex couples
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve in the military
Transgender people allowed to serve in the military
Conversion therapy banned on minors
Right to change legal gender (Since 2018)[5]
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples (Banned regardless of sexual orientation)
Access to IVF for lesbian couples (Available to single women, but not to lesbian couples)
MSM allowed to donate blood / (1 year deferral period)

See also


  1. "Hungary approves partnership legislation". 18 December 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  2. "Hungary legalizes same-sex civil partnerships". Reuters. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  3. "New Hungarian constitution comes into effect with same-sex marriage ban," PinkNews, 3 January 2012, accessed 6 January 2012.
  4. Hungarian ombuds finds rejection of lesbian woman’s application to adopt unlawful Háttér Society, 23 November 2017
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Rainbow Europe: Hungary
  7. (in Hungarian) Tájékoztatás a nem jogi elismerésével kapcsolatban
  8. Three decades of MSM donor deferral policies. What have we learned?
  9. Hungary blocks European agreement on LGBT rights Pink News, 8 March 2016
  10. Hungary's prime minister welcomes US 'anti-LGBT hate group' The Guardian, 26 May 2017
  11. In Budapest, LGBT Pride Behind the Police Barricades
  13. Embassies unite in solidarity with Budapest Pride
  14. In blow to Hungary, EU court rejects refugee ‘gay tests’
  15. Jobbik submits amendment aimed at banning "gay propaganda"
  16. This Small Hungarian Town Has Banned 'Gay Propaganda' to Become a Far-Right Refuge
  17. Hungarian court overturns village's ban on Islamic symbols and 'LGBT propaganda
  18. Budapest Cancels ‘Billy Elliot’ Performances
  19. "AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation". American Medical Association.
  20. "Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage". Angus Reid Global Monitor. 24 December 2006. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  21. "Hűvös fogadtatás: Közvélemény a homoszexuálisok megítéléséről" (in Hungarian). Medián. 11 July 2007.
  22. "Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  23. The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
  24. ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes Survey ILGA, October 2017
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