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Hungarian PM immediately attacks trans rights after being given emergency powers

The country’s far-right leader, Viktor Orban, has been granted extra power amidst the coronavirus pandemic – but it leaves minority groups vulnerable

2020-04-02

In new measures taken by the Hungarian parliament on Monday (30 March), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been given the indefinite right to rule by decree – allowing him to pass laws without having to consult with others.

Soon after Orbán's new powers were declared, deputy PM Zsolt Semjén tabled a new bill to replace “gender” with “birth sex” in all legal documents issued in Hungary.

The bill, if passed, would therefore essentially erase the existence of trans people in the country in the eyes of the law by offering no legal way for them to change their gender.

Official documents such as passports, driving licences and ID cards use information stored on the civil registry – so these would be affected by the change in law.

Viktor Orbán and Zsolt Semjén

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and deputy PM Zsolt Semjén

The bill states that current legislation allows doctors to determine what gender is entered into the civil registry for a person.

It says, “Given that completely changing one’s biological gender is impossible, it is necessary to lay it down I law that it cannot be changed in the civil registry either.”

It remains to be seen if Orbán will pass the bill, but his track record on LGBTQ rights is all too clear.

This latest attack comes following several years of sustained anti-LGBTQ posturing from the Hungarian PM – despite the progress made in much of neighbouring Europe.

In recent years, Orbán has refused to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which defines gender as a social construct, has blocked efforts to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, and has been linked to notorious anti-LGBTQ groups.

In November last year, it announced it would not be entering the now-postponed 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, describing it as a "homosexual flotilla".

Semjén’s bill was put forward on the same day that US state Idaho signed into law two of the most viciously anti-trans measures seen in the country – banning transgender girls from playing on women’s sports teams in schools and colleges, and allowing physical examinations of students’ anatomies.

This all comes in the same week of Trans Day of Visibility, held annually on 31 March. Watch our special video, featuring trans trailblazers Juno Dawson, Charlie Craggs and Kenny Ethan Jones, here.