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Hungary passes bill to ban legal gender recognition

The law will effectively erase trans people from legal existence in the EU state.

2020-05-19

Hungary has passed a bill to ban legal gender recognition, in the latest attack on the country's LGBTQ community.

On Tuesday (19 May), the Hungarian parliament voted in favour of a government-backed bill to replace the terms 'gender' with 'birth sex' on all legal documents issued in the country.

The draconian new law - which effectively prevents any form of legal recognition for transgender people in the EU state - was passed by 133 votes to 57.

The bill had been submitted by Hungary's deputy prime minister Zsolt Semjén on 31 March, which, cruelly, was International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and deputy PM Zsolt Semjén

It came just days after after Hungary's far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán, was given the indefinite right to rule by decree - allowing him to pass laws without having to consult with others - in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 

The bill has been condemned by LGBTQ organisations across Hungary as well as the Hungarian Psychological Association.

Hungarian LGBTQ rights organisation Háttér Society called on Hungarian president to prevent the bill from being signed into law.

"We will not give up fighting this law. We call on the President of the Republic, Jándor Áder to not sign the law, but send it for a review to the Constitutional Court" the group said 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."

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights and 63 members of the European Parliament had previousy called on the Hungarian government to drop the bill. 

The Hungarian government's latest attack on trans people 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.

Last November, Hungary announced it would not be entering the now-cancelled 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, describing it as a "homosexual flotilla".

The previous month, Hungarian regulators had handed down a fine to Coca-Cola after the drinks company included a same-sex couple in an advertising campaign.