19th Mar 2018


Hungary and Finland in uphill battle for gay rights

Gay communities in Hungary and Finland are facing uphill battles for equal rights with conservative politicians in both countries imposing barriers.

Hungarian children as young as 10 are being told homosexuality is a “deadly sin” in a state-backed religious textbook.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Onlookers at the Gay Pride march in Budapest last year, the next demonstration is set for early July (Photo: habeebee)

The courses on religion, introduced into the curriculum by the Hungarian government last year, are not compulsory.

But biology is.

Hungarian adolescents in a biology textbook are also being taught homosexuality is a mental disorder linked to HIV/Aids, venereal disease, and risky behaviour, according to the Budapest-based NGO for LGBTI rights, Hatter.

“This is biology, this is not religious education, this is what you get in core scientific subjects in the book the government recommends for schools,” says Tamas Dombos, a project co-ordinator and board member at Hatter.

The American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. The World Health Organization followed suite in 1990.

A report on LGBTI rights in each member state out on Tuesday (13 May) by Ilga-Europe, a Brussels-based gay rights NGO, notes that Hungary’s commissioner for fundamental rights at the time, Mate Szabo, criticised the school curriculum for not mentioning sexual minorities.

Szabo also raised concerns that children opted into religious studies by their parents would not receive a proper education on human rights.

“Hungarian LGBTI people suffered from a general climate of increased fear and violence towards all minorities,” notes the Ilga report.

For the gay community in the country, the struggle for equal rights and recognition remains an uphill battle. Few dare wander about holding hands in Budapest.

Hungary’s radical nationalist Jobbik party may have scaled back their homophobic rhetoric at the political level but can still be seen shouting abuse at events like Gay Pride, notes Dombos.

Centre-right leader Viktor Orban, for his part, has largely succeeded in advancing conservative values, which tends to exclude gay people.

Over the years he has overhauled the constitution four times and amid much controversy. The constitution's new preamble makes reference to God, Christianity, family and the Holy Crown.

But while Hungary has registered-partnership legislation for same-sex partners, the latest constitutional iteration spells out marriage as one between a man and a woman.

It also restricts the notion of family by reducing the rights of same sex couples who live together.

Hungary is not alone when it comes to government-led limitations, which spin a conservative definition of marriage.

Finland isolated among more progressive countries

Surrounded by more progressive Scandinavian countries, Finland stands out as an anomaly.

“Usually what we say is that what happens in Sweden will happen in Finland in ten years or so,” says Aija Salo, secretary-general of the Helsinki-based NGO for LGBTI rights, Seta.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Sweden in 2009, along with Norway. Denmark followed in 2012.

Despite high public support for equal marriage rights, the legal committee in the Finnish parliament narrowly rejected a marriage equality bill earlier last year.

Salo says most conservative politicians oppose the equal marriage measures, while other conservatives won’t take a stand in support in fear they’ll be voted out of office.

“Unfortunately there are opponents to equal marriage in all the bigger parties,” she adds.

A citizen’s initiative launched last March in favour of equal marriage rights collected some 170,000 signatures.

Finnish law requires the parliament to review any initiative with at least 50,000 signatures.

But the initiative is stuck in the legal committee and is not advancing.

“The more conservative members of the legal committee are trying to postpone it as much as possible so that it won’t come into vote before the next elections [April 2015],” said Salo.

EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

LGBTI protection still lacking in EU

Despite some welcome advances, some legal rights for the LGBTI community are lacking in EU member states, and the rise of the populist right is making things worse, conference in Warsaw is told.

EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Selmayr case symptomatic, warns EU novel author
  2. Russia poisoning is not EU concern, Germany says
  3. Kiev wants EU sanctions on former German chancellor
  4. North Korea: time to put the 'E' in engagement
  5. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  6. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  7. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  8. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  2. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  4. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  5. EUobserverNow Hiring! Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience
  6. EUobserverNow Hiring! Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience
  7. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  10. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections
  12. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction