Hungarian lawmakers on Monday overwhelmingly adopted a new socially and fiscally conservative constitution that bans gay and lesbian couples from marrying, the AP reported.

The measure was backed by the Fidesz party and its ally, the Christian Democrats, who won two-thirds of parliamentary seats last April. The rewrite sailed through with a 262 to 44 vote. Hungary's three opposition parties – the Socialists, the green Politics Can Be Different, and the far-right Jabbik – were virtually shut out of the process or refused to participate.

Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban cheered the move, saying it would aid the former communist country to transition to democracy, a process which began in 1989. But human rights groups, including Amnesty International, called it an attempt to limit freedoms.

The measure's anti-discrimination clause excludes sexual orientation or gender identity, and the document defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Gay couples may legally register their relationships.

β€œThe new constitution is built upon our past and traditions, but seeks and contains answers to current problems while keeping an eye on the future,” parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover said.