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Title: Hungarian Malaise? Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 19th January 2012 - 2:27pm1326936420 Article: 11303 Rights
 
According to the Economist, Hungary's new Fidesz government is controversial for reasons beyond its pre-emptive same-sex marriage ban and constitutional rollbacks. To examine why, we will need to briefly describe Hungary's post-communist history, its LGBT rights record and the rise of Fidesz. In 1990, the Hungarian Socialist Workers (Communist) Party abdicated after witnessing the end of other former Warsaw Pact regimes in neighbouring Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Poland. The Hungarian Democratic Forum and Socialist Party have had the shared goal of reorienting the country toward the European Union and NATO, and both embraced privatisation and an open market economy. This resulted in high unemployment and inflation and although the resultant governments were highly popular abroad, they were less so within Hungary itself. Added to which, its economic development required considerable levels of overseas debt and foreign investment. For a while, the Budapest Stock Exchange performed quite robustly, even if the privatisation programme was uneven and occasionally mishandled. During the nineties, administration oscillated between the Hungarian Democratic Forum and Socialist Party and their allies. In 1999, Hungary joined NATO, while it assumed European Union membership in 2002. As a consequence of the global economic crisis, the Hungarian electorate had enough of the resultant austerity politics and elected Fidesz to government with its coalition partners in 2010. Fidesz is an anti-market social conservative party, akin to our own New Zealand First. It began its existence as a 'classical liberal' party akin to ACT, but after a disappointing election result in 1994, it decided to switch tack and transform itself into a social conservative populist party. It has been in trouble with the International Monetary Fund over its rejection of market economics and more controversially, has presided over some unpopular constitutional roll-backs, instituting a new constitution that pre-emptively bans same-sex marriage and restricts access to the Constitutional Court. This has prompted mass protests. What about LGBT rights in Hungary? It decriminalised homosexuality, albeit with an unequal age of consent (20) in 1961, reduced to eighteen in 1978 and then age of consent equality occurred in 2002. In 1997, the Hungarian government adopted an unmarried cohabitants bill which covered straight, lesbian and gay cohabitants but which was unnecessarily bureaucratic. In 2007, it adopted a registered partnerships bill that provided all the rights and responsibilities of straight married couples. Lesbians and gay men can serve in the military, although surrogacy, IVF access and adoption are closed to otherwise eligible same-sex couples. The new Fidesz constitution pre-emptively bans same-sex marriage proper, however and excises LGBT individuals from anti-discrimination laws, which had been guaranteed after a Constitutional Court decision in 2000. As for the Constitution itself, it has aroused ferocious opposition inside and outside Hungary's LGBT community. There have been massive protests in Budapests at the flawed constitution's attacks on same-sex marriage, difficulties in European Single Currency transformation, stacking of government offices with Fidesz cronies, claims of anti-Semitic historical revisionism from the Hungarian Jewish community, extension of the parliamentary term, anti-abortion 'fetal protection' clauses and expressions of concern from Germany, the United Nations, United States and the European Union at its attacks on civil liberties. Recommended: LGBT rights in Hungary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Hungary Constitution of Hungary: http://en,wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Hungary "Hungary's government: To Viktor, too many spoils" Economist: 07.01.2012: http://www.economist.com/node/21542414 Craig Young - 19th January 2012    
 
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