Sexuality

Sexuality is a difficult subject for most Hungarians to discuss openly due to a number of historical factors: conservative cultural traditions, Catholicism, and socialist morality. While sex education has been presented in schools since the 1970s, it includes only the most rudimentary factual information. As a result, knowledge about sexual relationships, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and even sexuality more generally is fairly limited (Hochberg, 1997). But Hungarian women have access to a range of choices for contraception and these are available at relatively low cost. As a result, about 75% of Hungarian women between 19 and 41 use birth control (Jozan, 1999). Abortion is also quite common (Kamaras, 1999), especially for teens and women over 40 (Pongracz & Toth, 1999). Since 1993, abortion has been available up to the 12th week of pregnancy almost without restriction. Prior to this time, it was legal, available, and common, but a woman was subject to a waiting period and invasive questioning by her doctor (Jakus, 1993).

Sexuality is an area that has changed significantly over the past two or three decades. While many older women in Hungary continue to live by the double standards with which they grew up, which valued women's virginity, women's sexuality only in the context of marriage, and other conservative norms, younger women tend to see sexuality as a natural part of their relationships with men (Kende & Nemenyi, 1999). Today, a majority of young people have their first sexual experience by age 18.2 (Kamaras, 1999).

One of the most incongruous aspects of contemporary Hungary is the social and political position of homosexuality. On the one hand, homosexuality has been legal since 1961 and, outside of Scandinavia and The Netherlands, Hungary has one of the most liberal domestic partner laws in the world (Long, 1999). Samesex couples have most of the same rights as married couples (Farkas, 2000), and in Budapest and a few other large cities gays and lesbians have formed a number of activist and social groups. Yet, at the same time, there is no real national organization, lobbying group, or even lasting local organizing group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgendered people (Long, 1999). Several organizations have also been prevented from forming because they refused to bar membership to those below 18, the legal age of consent for homosexual sex (it is 14 for heterosexuals) (Long, 1999). Until very recently, there was no real gay and lesbian community in Hungary, in part because of the refusal of gay men to work with lesbians or feminists, in part because there was no consensus on what the community should be or do, and in part because of the relative silence about sexuality more generally (Long, 1999). Despite the increasing visibility of groups for sexual minorities, silence and loneliness continue to be the two most devastating facts of life for gays and lesbians in Hungary (Birtalan, 2000; Sandor, 2000).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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