Hungary moves to remove transgender recognition

Hungary has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by bringing in sweeping changes to the country’s laws which political analysts describe as transforming the country into a dictatorship.

Last week the country’s parliament voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree for as long as the coronavirus crisis is deemed to be continuing.

The new laws also mandate jail time for intentionally spreading disinformation that hampers the coronavirus response.

Also among the bills to tackle the virus is a requirement that all people’s gender be defined as their biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.

If passed all people’s birth gender will be recorded on a national register and there will be no pathways for people to change their gender with the bill specifically stating gender records can never be changed.

The move has been widely criticised by human rights groups. Dunja Mijatović from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights described the move as an act against human dignity.

“Transgender persons have the right to legal recognition of their gender based on self-determination. This is an essential step to ensure respect for their human rights in all areas of life. Legal gender recognition is a matter of human dignity,” she said in a statement last week.

Marc Angel, a member of the European Parliament and co-president of its informal Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said in a statement reacting to the omnibus bill – that the move against gender recognition was a deliberate attack on the transgender community.

“This attack on the trans community is outrageous and deliberate,” Angel said.  “This move does not only intentionally silence the trans community – it seeks to erase it and deny its existence.”

Dr. Zsófia A. Szabó, a member of the Prizma Transgender Community said the bill would create endless discrimination for people.

“The proposal deprives every Hungarian transgender person of the opportunity to ever use their documents without fear in their life,” Dr. Szabó said.

“If the proposed bill is adopted, a transgender person will risk discrimination every time they are required to present their identity documents, since it will include the “sex at birth” recorded on the basis of scientifically outdated criteria, not the gender they identify and live as.”

Hungary’s longest running LGBTIQ+ rights organisation Háttér Társaság released a statement saying the proposed law would cleary violate international human rights norms.

“Banning legal gender recognition clearly violates international human rights norms, and the consistent case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

“It also contradicts the consistent practice of the Hungarian  Constitutional Court, that ruled in 2005, 2007 and 2018 (in 2018 unanimously) that the legal gender and name change for transgender people are a fundamental human right.” the group said.

They argue that the bill will create harsh workplace and healthcare discrimination, forcing transgender people to explain themselves every time they present their university degree, and having to face being accused of stealing when they use their credit cards, and questioned whenever they use their ID to pick up a package from the post office.

Háttér Társaság say that the bill attacks the one of the most vulnerable minorities in Hungary, while doing nothing to address the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

OIP Staff

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