The Constitutional Court's March 1995 decision recognizing common-law relationships between homosexuals; copy of the Court's decision; main considerations; national/international law principles behind the decision [HUN34728.E]

No copy of Hungary's March 1995 Constitutional Court's decision recognizing common-law relationships between homosexuals could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. There are a number of media reports regarding the decision and its implications (Boston Globe, AP, Le séminaire gai)

However, the International Lesbian and Gay Association World Legal Survey quotes an 8 March 1995 Reuters report which states that:

Hungary's Constitutional Court struck down a law barring homosexuals from common-law marriage on Wednesday, effectively making Hungary the first East European nation to extend traditional rights to gay couples.
The court ruled as unconstitutional the definition that common-law marriages were "those formed between adult men and women". "It is arbitrary and contrary to human dignity...that the law (on common-law marriages) withholds recognition from couples living in an economic and emotional union simply because they are same-sex," the court said in a statement. But the court also ruled that formal, civil marriages are still off-limits to homosexual couples. "The constitution protects the institution of (civil) marriages, and defines it as a union between a man and a woman," it said. "Despite growing acceptance of homosexuality ...(and) changes in the traditional definition of a family, there is no reason to change the law on (civil) marriages."
The court sent the law on common-law marriages, called Ptk 578/G, back to the legislature, saying the law should be changed or a new legislation should be enacted to extend the common-law rights to gay couples by March 1, 1996.
Under Hungarian regulations, common-law marriage gives virtually all the rights to partners that registered marriages offer, said a constitutional lawyer close to the case who requested anonymity. Common-law marriages are recognised when a couple live together permanently and are involved in a sexual relationship, he said.
The Constitutional Court wants the legislature to give gays the same economic rights, such as access to social benefits, heterosexual couples now enjoy, he said. The court might accept a law that bars homosexuals from adopting children, he added. (Sept. 1999)

The World Legal Survey also quotes a 1996 Rex Wockner International News (RW) report which states that:

Hungary legalized common-law gay marriage May 21 [1996]. Gay couples who live together and have sex will have all the rights of heterosexual spouses-including to inheritance and pensions-but will not be allowed to adopt children. Parliament voted 207-73 in favor of the change, heeding a March 1995 Constitutional Court ruling that mandated legalization of same-sex common-law marriage within one year. The court ruling had been completely unexpected and was not the result of any campaigning by gay groups. Geza Juhasz of the gay group Rainbow told Reuters: "We welcome the fact that parliament passed this law but I don't think this proves that most MPs are more enlightened. The law was ... imposed on parliament by the Constitutional Court (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 8 March 1995. "Constitutional Court in Hungary rejects Gay Appeal on Marriage Law." (NEXIS)

Boston Globe (AP). 12 February 1998. E. J. Graff. "The Inevitability of Same-sex Marriage." (NEXIS)

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). September 1999. World Legal Survey. [Accessed 21 June 2000]

Le séminaire gai, law section, family law. n.d. Hongrie. [Accessed 21 June 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


Internet sources including:

World News Connection

Various search engines

Associated documents