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Hungarian lawmakers propose rights for gay couples

Hungarian lawmakers propose rights for gay couples

One of Hungary's government parties said Wednesday it plans to propose legislation granting unmarried people living together, including same-sex couples, similar rights to those enjoyed by married couples. The proposal, to be submitted by the Alliance of Free Democrats, would let unmarried couples register their relationships with civil authorities. Surviving partners in unmarried or same-sex couples then would be allowed to inherit from their deceased partners without a will and would also qualify for certain housing privileges, such as favorable mortgage loans, now available only to married couples. While Free Democrat officials said their proposal was not tantamount to granting gay couples the right to marry, they acknowledged they wanted to move in that direction. "This is not a radical proposal. It is a smaller package," said Laszlo Csozik, a member of the Free Democrats' national committee. "But it shows the way forward." Csozik pointed out that the proposed legislation did not extend adoption rights to unmarried or gay couples and that this sort of civil registration would be much easier to dissolve than a marriage. Initial reaction from the coalition-leading Socialist Party indicated that the Free Democrats' initiative--especially the fact that it included gay couples--would face resistance in parliament. "Hungarian society is not prepared for such a proposal," said Socialist deputy Laszlo Donath, vice chairman of parliament's human rights, minority, and religious affairs committee. "It would only lead to confrontation, and there are more pressing issues we have to deal with first." Donath, also a Lutheran minister, said the Socialists agreed with the basic premise of the proposal, that no one should be discriminated against because of their sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. "But we also have to consider the social and historical circumstances of the moment," Donath said. (AP)

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