Hungary defines family as having a mother and a father

Credit: Liderina/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Dec 15, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- Hungary’s Parliament passed a law Tuesday defining the family as having a woman as the mother and a man as the father, effectively banning adoptions by same-sex couples and complicating adoptions by single people.

The change is the latest of several to be made in recent years in what the government has said are attempts to preserve Hungary’s Christian identity and to boost its plummeting birth rates.

“If we give up on our Christianity, then we will lose our own identity, as Hungarians, as Europeans,” Katalin Novák, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family Affairs, told CNA last December.

Roughly half of Hungary’s population identifies as Roman Catholic, while about one-fifth identifies as Protestant or some other Christian denomination. Another fifth of the population identifies as having no religious affiliation, with Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities making up the rest of the population.

Novák told CNA in 2019 that Hungary’s leaders were concerned with the country’s future due to the plummeting birth rate, which is 1.48, well below replacement level at 2.1 children per woman.

“We have a demographic challenge ahead of us,” Novák said.

While some countries may rely on immigration, Hungary is trying to reverse the trend with a two-pronged approach: financial incentives for families to have more children, and promoting a culture that is pro-life and welcoming of large families, she added.

In that vein, the Hungarian government started offering financial incentives for couples in the country to marry and have children, including subsidized loans to those who marry before the bride’s 41st birthday.

Incentives to have children are built into the loan. One-third of it can be forgiven if the married couple has two children, and the entire loan can be forgiven if they have three children. Women with four or more children will be exempted from income tax for life. Families with at least three children are eligible for a grant to purchase a car that seats seven or more people.

Hungary claims the policies are working, as its central statistics office recently reported a 20% increase in marriages in 2019.

But the bump in fertility is yet to be seen, and other European countries, such as France and Germany, that have attempted to increase fertility through government subsidies have not seen a significant increase in birth rates.

Earlier this year, Hungary also passed a law declaring a person’s gender to be that of their biological sex at birth, blocking attempts by transgender people to change their legal gender identity. The move was widely criticized by some as an attack on LGBT human rights.
Critics have also said the policy changes passed this week are a dangerous expansion of power by Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party, the New York Times reported.

Critics have argued that the policy changes will lessen oversight of government spending, as well as lower the requirements necessary for the government to declare a state of emergency, leading to less accountability and greater potential for the government to seize more control.

“Wherever it was possible, Fidesz chose to cement its power even more with these laws,” Agnes Kovacs, a legal expert with the Eotvos Karoly Policy Institute, told the New York Times.

Renata Uitz, a professor of comparative constitutional law at Central European University, told the New York Times that the changes to declaring a state of emergency were so broadly defined that even a mild protest could give the government the opportunity to use its emergency powers.

Hungary also sees part of its Christian identity in helping Christian victims of persecution in other countries. In Iraq, the government helped resettle Christian genocide victims through its aid program Hungary Helps, providing more than $3 million for the effort.
However, the country has also been criticized for its immigration policies. The UN’s human rights chief said its 2018 law criminalizing the assistance of asylum seekers was “blatantly xenophobic.” As of early 2018, the UN’s refugee agency said Hungary was only admitting around two asylum seekers per day through its transit zones.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, who recently visited the country, said that “migrants are portrayed as dangerous enemies in both official and public discourses.”

Novák said in 2019 that Hungary does not “see immigration as a solution to our demographic problem,” and is willing to assist with resettling refugees but is not prioritizing the acceptance of economic migrants seeking a “better life.”

“We are, in the first place, responsible for our own people. And if they need more help in order to be able to raise more children and have a family, then we have to provide this help,” she said.

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  1. Want children? Give Mom and Dad back their true job–raising and educating their offspring. 1) Scale back government schools, and then 2) scale back welfare programs starting with Social Security type programs. (All taxes going to these programs must end as well.)
    The best help is sometimes no help.

  2. Hailing from Hungary is Peter Cardinal Erdo, a top-tier papabili reported in Edward Pentin’s THE NEXT POPE (Sophia Institute Press, 2020; the likely 19 are listed without preference, alphabetically, in the book). As the relator-general for the second session of the Synod on Families (2015), Cardinal Erdo unburied a needed reference point when he proclaimed the Church’s teaching(about the universal natural law):

    “’There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity.’ Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 4, Instrumentum Laboris 130).

    Cardinal Erdo’s full text:

  3. Banning gay people from adopting will increase the fertility rates of heterosexuals? How does that work? And bribing couples to have children with state goodies and benefits smacks of socialism and government intervention into peoples’ private lives at its worst. Authoritarian, bureaucratic attempts to engineer large families are doomed to fail – as reality is already proving.

  4. john:
    Banning gay people from adopting will increase the fertility rates of heterosexuals? How does that work? ”
    Well, you know that’s an interesting question because obviously some male/female reproductive event has to take place first to produce those children.
    I don’t know what the answer to that question is but don’t you think it’s more of a child welfare/best interests issue than a demographic one?

    • Yes. I hope the actual law was written carefully enough to allow for families like, for example, the Beverly Hillbillies: a widower, his daughter, his mother-in-law, and his nephew. For that matter, my mother’s brother, who is about a decade younger than her, lived with my parents for several years after my parents got married, because my maternal grandmother was dead and my maternal grandfather was not a very good parent.

    • That sounds good until you start thinking about complications. You must mean “a living and present mother and father”, because human biology insures that every child does indeed have a mother and father, whether or not there is a right to them. But suppose the mom dies. Does the child’s “right to a mother and father” REQUIRE the widower to remarry? Or suppose the dad commits a serious crime. Does the child’s “right to a mother and father” override society’s right to protect itself by jailing the father?

      It seems unwise to court such difficulties by using the language of rights. It would be better to say, as Fr. Bauer does above, that a family consists first of having a father and a mother, that that structure should be preserved as much as possible, and that alternative structures that are simply mocking inversions are never permissible.

    • This comment and possibly others miss the point made in the article, which calls for “a woman as the mother and a man as the father.” Excluded by this original wording is the case of homosexual male pairings who then refer to each other as a “husband” (father?) and “wife” (mother?). Perhaps any editing might read: “woman-as-the-mother and man-as-the-father”.

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