Friday, 21 December 2007

Hungary Mulls Rights For Gay Couples

Hungary's left-of-center coalition government is reportedly considering legislation that would give limited rights to same-sex couples.

The move comes a week after a Parliamentary committee turned down a similar proposal. Last Wednesday the Human Rights Committee heard from LGBT activists and members of the small Free Democratic Party in the coalition who called for a free debate in Parliament.

FDP member Peter Gusztos said denying property and inheritance rights to same-sex couples was discriminatory. A member of a Budapest LGBT rights group compared laws limiting rights to opposite-sex married couples to the country's anti-Jewish laws of the late 1930s.

The majority Socialist Party said that society is not yet ready for such a step and pointed to a recent court ruling that upheld the current law.

What prompted the change in attitude by the government is not known, but the country has been prodded by the European Union to recognize gay and lesbian relationships.

How much support there is within the cabinet also is not known. Right-of-center politicians in Parliament have said they would vote against any measure recognizing same-sex relationships.

Right groups have been calling for amendments in the marriage law to allow property, pension and inheritance rights. They also want the right for same-sex couples to adopt children.

Western European members of the EU all recognize same-sex relationships. Only the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain allow same-sex marriage. Britain has civil partnerships with all of the rights of marriage. The other states have varying forms of civil unions or domestic partner registries.

In July several hundred skinheads and right-wing activists threw rotten eggs and smoke bombs at people participating in a gay rights parade in Budapest.

A week earlier a member of the coalition government's cabinet came out. Gabor Szetey became the first Hungarian cabinet minister to announce he is gay.


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