Hungary’s anti-transgender legislation sparks fears of further discrimination against LBGTI people

By Declan Carey

NEW gender legislation passed in Hungary could set the stage for further attacks on the LGBTI rights, campaigners have warned.

Last week, the Hungarian Parliament passed a bill ending the legal right to change gender in the country, igniting fears that the LGBTI community is in line to face more discrimination measures.

The bill was passed by 133 to 57 votes and will prevent transgender people in the country from being legally able to choose their sex.

The change is a blow for human rights and LGBTI campaigners in the country who now fear further repercussions.

Screenshot 2020-05-25 at 09.53.38
Image: Neil @Flickr

Tamás Dombos from Háttér Society, Hungary’s largest LGBTI organisation told Redaction that it was only a matter of time before the right-wing Government targeted the community. 

“Since last year, the Government and its politicians have become vocally homophobic and transphobic, mostly focusing on adoption and parenting issues saying it’s like paedophilia and that it has to be stopped under any circumstances.”

“We see that homophobia and transphobia is growing in the country and that is partly related to the political strategy the government is playing.”

“The timing is partly to do with the coronavirus because they did think in a time like this when everyone is talking about something else, they could do this without much pressure or debate. It was a political choice to do it right now.”

“Many people fear that it is part of this broader strategy of the government to pick on LGBTI people and maybe they will take away other rights. So many people in the community are afraid.”

A report presented at the 122nd United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2018 revealed that hatred against sexual and gender minorities in Hungary is on the rise, with 28% of the LGBTI community having experienced a physical or sexual attack, or having been threatened with violence in the past five years.

And with Parliament legislation removing social rights of transgender people, it is difficult to see how the situation will improve. 

Leanne MacMillan, Director of Global Programmes at LGBTI rights charity Stonewall, spoke to Redaction about the importance of keeping legal protections in place: “The provisions of this legislation in Hungary severely violate the rights of trans and intersex people and fail to protect their human dignity.  We stand in solidarity with those affected in Hungary.”

“It is vital that legal protections remain in place to protect trans and intersex people from further discrimination in Hungary and across the globe. We will keep fighting for equality for all.”

The law change in Hungary has drawn reaction from around the world, with organisations like Amnesty International condemning the move.

In a statement, Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy, Amnesty International’s Europe Researcher, said: “This decision pushes Hungary back towards the dark ages and tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people.

“It will not only expose them to further discrimination but will also deepen an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.

“It is critical for Hungary’s Commissioner for Fundamental Rights to act urgently and request that the Constitutional Court review and swiftly annuls the appalling provisions of this law.

“Everyone’s gender identity should be legally recognised and everyone must be allowed to change their legal name and gender markers on all official documents.”

While it is clear that the law will be challenged in court, both within Hungary and on an international stage, it could take several years before reaching a judge at the highest level with the ability to reverse such legislation.

Until then, transgender people and the LGBTI community in Hungary must continue to campaign for legal rights without the backing of their Government.


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