LGBTQ+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBTQ+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

4.5
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1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
1
Yes
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
1
Yes
3.
Is being LGBTQ+ punishable by death?
1
No
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0.5
Officially yes, but in practice Hungarian workplaces are very homophobic and few people are out there.
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0
No
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
1
Yes
9.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom for assembly or speech for LGBTQ+ people (i.e. “anti-propaganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
0
Yes
Talking Points
  • In discussions with the private sector, mention that the UN’s Standards of Conduct for Business set the bar on aligning companies’ policies and practices with international human rights standards even in complex environments.
  • Highlight that harassment and discrimination remain rampant -- and underreported -- in the workplace, making clearly communicated LGBTQ+ policies and protections instrumental.
  • Discuss the generational change in societal attitudes. Hungarians 18-29 are 28% more likely to be accepting of LGBTQ people than those over 50, so pro-LGBTQ+ company policy will help attract the best young talent.
  • Stress the role of the private sector in countering hate speech. Because the current Hungarian government is focused on passing laws discriminatory for the LGBTQ community, emphasis on equality internally can make the workplace a refuge for LGBTQ employees and demonstrate your values to industry partners and competitors.
  • Reiterate the business and economic case for equality. The Hungarian government’s track record of pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation has drawn condemnation from major economic superpowers, including fellow EU member states. Prioritizing pro-LGBTQ policies in the company will help attract foreign direct investment despite the nation’s poor reputation globally in this area.
Talking Points

Legal Status of the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community

  • Non-discrimination protections. Hungary’s Act on Equal Treatment and its criminal code officially offer anti-discrimination and hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Criminalization. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in Hungary since 1961.
  • Same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage is prohibited in Hungary, though same-sex civil unions have been legal since 2009.
  • Adoption. As of late 2020, same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children in Hungary, because a couple must be married to adopt, and same-sex couples cannot get married. Prior to parliament tightening restrictions, one member of a same-sex couple could apply to adopt as a single parent.

Legal Status of the Transgender and Gender-Diverse Communities

  • Gender identity. Trans people who have sought to change gender markers since March 2020 are prohibited from doing so. People who transitioned or were transitioning before the law went into effect can maintain gender markers consistent with their gender identity. The new law means that all official documents must have a person’s birth-assigned gender on them. Hungarians must name their children from a gender-specific list, making it impossible for trans or nonbinary people to legally select names that reflect their gender identity.

Government Statements and Actions

  • Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has been prioritizing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation since coming to power in 2010. Actions have included banning same-sex marriage through a constitutional amendment and banning gender studies at universities.
  • Parliament passed a law in June 2021 banning LGBTQ+ content from educational materials or television shows targeting minors. The law also prohibits companies from running LGBTQ-friendly advertisements if they potentially target minors. The anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, tacked onto a widely supported anti-pedophilia law at the last minute, was panned by European Union officials.
  • In January 2021, the Hungarian government decided that books with LGBTQ+ content must be prefaced with a written disclaimer.
  • Hungary banned same-sex couples from adopting in a law passed in December 2020 by limiting adoption to married couples in a nation that prohibits same-sex marriage.
  • In November 2020, Hungary’s parliament announced plans to abolish its Equal Treatment Authority, the state body responsible for investigating discrimination cases. It would have been replaced by an authority loyal to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-LGBTQ+ ruling party. The plan was ultimately tabled.
  • In May 2020, parliament passed a law banning the legal recognition of trans people, even those who already transitioned and lived as a different gender than assigned at birth. The law was subsequently amended to grandfather in the status of people who did or were transitioning when the law took effect.
Impact of LGBTQ+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
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Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • Pride. In summer 2021 Budapest Pride celebrated its 26th festival year.
  • Grassroot movements. There is a vibrant LGBTQ+ movement that has been emboldened by recent setbacks. However, freedom of association could be threatened by restrictions of civil space in the future.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • Resistance. Though Prime Minister Viktor Orban receives widespread voter support, consistent grassroots resistance to anti-LGBTQ legislation, especially among Hungarians under 34, has shown that a vocal segment of the population does not support his agenda.
  • LGBTQ+ equality. An IPSOS 2021 poll showed 46% of Hungarians think same-sex marriage should be legalized.
  • A 2019 poll showed that a vast majority of Hungarians — some 70% — support legal gender identity recognition for trans people. However, polling data collected in 2017 showed that just 41% of Hungarians thought their country should do more to support trans people there.
  • About 140 businesses joined together to promote a campaign, Family is Family, that protests Hungary’s new de facto ban on adoption by same-sex couples.

Representation in politics and media

Local Leaders Advocating for LGBTQ+ Equality

Avoid making a public pronouncement on LGBTQ+ equality in Hungary without first consulting with local organizations. Grandstanding by foreign companies or public attempts that have not been vetted by local groups are often ineffective or counterproductive, lacking a thorough understanding of on-the-ground context and dynamics.

Hatter Society — https://en.hatter.hu/

Hungarian LGBT Association — https://lmbtszovetseg.hu/

Foundation for Rainbow Families — https://acsaladazcsalad.hu/indexen.html

We are open — https://nyitottakvagyunk.hu