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The Hungarian Constitutional Court affirms the constitutionality of Registered Partnerships

The Hungarian Constitutional Court affirmed on Wednesday the constitutionality of the country’s Registered Partnerships Act.  The law went into effect on July 1, 2009, giving same-sex couples the same legal status as married different-sex couples with the exception that a same-sex spouse can’t take on their spouse’s surname, and couples can’t adopt or use assisted reproduction.The new law was challenged in court by the usual suspects almost immediately after passage, according to UK Gay News.

Soon after its adoption last summer, conservative groups, including the Christian Democratic People’s Party, the Society for Christian Physicians in Hungary, the Pro Life Forum linked to the Catholic Church and representatives of Faith Church, a powerful Pentecostal church, submitted nine petitions contending the unconstitutionality of the Act.

The arguments were diverse.  Some argued that the new institution undermines the institution of marriage, others that excluding different-sex couples is discriminatory. There were legal arguments against the technique of codification (a general clause equating registered partnership with marriage for most purposes), but also religious arguments that homosexuality is disorderly and immoral.  Several petitions claimed that by institutionalizing and promoting homosexuality the law harms the children.

The Court rejected each of these claims one by one, reaffirming its previous decision that the right of same-sex couples to legal recognition and protection can be derived from the constitutional principle of human dignity and that the introduction of an institution similar to marriage for same-sex couples is a duty of the state imposed by the Constitution.

The Court also added that the law will play a positive role in promoting the social acceptance of same-sex couples and help gays and lesbians to come out.

Despite the Court’s positive ruling, it left the door open to potential legislative weakening of the registered partnerships law:

[T]he Court also noted that not all differences between marriage and registered partnership are necessarily discriminatory, giving discretionary power to the legislator in deciding on the actual rights and duties that come with registered partnership.

One of the organizations challenging the RP Act in court was a conservative Christian party expected to win the next federal election.  However UK Gay News reports that the party hasn’t yet said whether undermining gay and lesbian families is on their legislative agenda.

Related: Hungary Legalizes Same-Sex Civil Partnerships.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer