Gay and unmarried couples in Hungary may soon be able to register their “domestic relationships” following draft legislation which the government is submitting to parliament this week.

According to a government spokesman, David Daroczi, the proposed law, which would take effect from 1st January 2009, would give couples many of the same benefits as married couples, including rights of inheritance and taking each other’s name.

They would not, however, be able to adopt children.

Government statistics show that there were an estimated 349,000 unmarried couples in Hungary in 2005, 12.2 per cent of all families, compared to 62,000 in 1970, 2.1 per cent of all families.

But around 120 other laws would need to be adjusted to make way for the new legislation, many of which would require a two-thirds majority before they are ratified, including support from centre-right opposition.

Tibor Navracsics, parliamentary leader of Fidesz, the main centre-right opposition faction, said that his party could not make a statement regarding the legislation as they were yet to see it.

At present, the Hungarian government is led by socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany who controls 54 per cent of the 386 seats.

Referring to the draft legislation, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said: “The government’s objective is to have order, to finally make the laws conform to people’s changed living circumstances.”

Hungary was the first former communist state to legalise same-sex partnerships.