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Hungary passes cruel law to ban legal gender recognition

Hungary passes cruel law to ban legal gender recognition

  • But LGBT+ campaigners in Hungary will keep fighting.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Hungary’s Parliament has passed a bill that stops transgender people changing their legal gender.

The vote passed despite vigorous opposition from around the world. The European Parliament, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and multiple campaign groups have all criticized Hungary for the move.

LGBT+ campaigners in the country also say the new law violates a fundamental right under Hungary’s constitution. They have now asked President János Áder to send the law to the Constitutional Court for review.

It comes almost two years after Hungary suspended providing gender and name change requests.

Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights has been looking at a case of 23 trans Hungarians who have been trying to change their gender. It gave the government until 4 June to act. If not, it said it would rule on the case.

‘We will not give up fighting this law’

Hungary’s Parliament passed the bill yesterday afternoon (19 May) by 133 to 57 votes. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party enjoys a two-thirds majority, enough to push the new law through, in spite of opposition from other parties.

Opposition parties submitted several amendments. But the Fidesz-KDNP majority voted them down one by one.

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén filed the omnibus bill on 31 March – the International Transgender Visibility Day.

It amends the Registry Act and replaces the word ‘nem’, which in Hungarian can mean both ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, with the word ‘születési nem’ or ‘birth sex’. Furthermore it defines it as ‘biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes’.

According to the bill, the birth sex, once recorded, cannot be amended. The cruel law won’t just hurt individuals but will also make trans people legally invisible in Hungary.

Hungarian LGBT+ organization the Háttér Society said:

‘The introduction of the bill is yet another example of human rights violations by Fidesz.

‘According to the latest Rainbow Europe report by ILGA-Europe, which ranks 49 European countries based on their laws and policies on LGBTI people, Hungary peaked in 2013, ranking 9th with 55 points.

‘Since then, Hungary has dropped back to 27th place and lost 22 points, 8.5 in the last year. 

‘We will not give up fighting this law. We call on the President of the Republic, János Áder to not sign the law, but send it for a review to the Constitutional Court.’

Pushing Hungary ‘back towards the dark ages’

In fact, Hungarian people support trans rights.

A survey in September 2019 found 70% believe that trans people should have access to legal gender recognition. By contrast, only 17% believed that trans people should under no circumstances change their gender or name.

Moreover, 22 Hungarian human rights and LGBT+ organizations have condemned the new law. And so has the Hungarian Psychological Association and the Equal Treatment Authority.

Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy, Amnesty International’s Researcher in Hungary, 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.’