HUNGARY SABOTAGING LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY
By- Anjali Kumari, a Second Year student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.
Hungary’s parliament has passed an abhorrent law on 19th May 2020 that would make the transgender people impossible to change their gender legally – putting them at the risk of frequent harassment, violence, and discrimination. It gets the formal assent, i.e., it is accepted as a law on 28th May 2020. Earlier, transgender people could have easily attained gender identities through forensic medical evaluations. But the sanction of the new law makes it impossible for transgender people to change their gender legally on identity documents.
Moreover, this decision has been taken at the time when the government is using the pandemic as a tool to grab non-authorized and unprecedented power to rule over the people. Parliament is also not spared from being used as a mechanism to get access to controversial bills like this one. Hungary, in the process, also redefines the word “nem” by which in Hungarian stands for the word “sex” or “gender” by “sex assigned at birth”, to scrutinize more about the person’s biological sex based on primary characteristics or chromosomes through Article 33.
SYSTEMATIC VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Transgender comes under an umbrella of those people whose gender expression is different from the sex at birth. The proposed law blurred the demarcation between sex and gender. In Hungarian law, after this reform, anyone whose gender identity is unparalleled with their sex is not allowed to change it on legal documents that further deny legal recognition. It hampers the dignity of the individual, aggravating their difficulties. Hungary is a signatory to many human rights treaties but failed drastically in providing a secure environment to the transgender rights.
The European Convention on Human Rights binds all European states to give legal gender recognition in addition to universal human rights. Article 8 of the convention states respect to private and family life, and under Article 14, any discrimination is prohibited. Hungary’s new law is also against the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which asks to provide equal recognition to LGBTQIA+ rights. Hungary not only violating international conventions but also not adhering their constitution. The constitutional court of Hungary clarified that recognizing transgender people and their decision of changing the names is an undeniable aspect of the fundamental right to dignity. Still, it is not reflected in the decision-making process of Hungary.
The new proposed law made the transgender vulnerable to more atrocities and completely marginalized them from mainstream society. The political view in Hungary is quite hostile towards the circumstances of the LGBT community, which explains that the people are not convinced of the decision taken by the government in dealing with the anti-LGBT bias. It is brought to threaten their existence with many social barriers.
Hungarians are obliged to show their identity documents often during their daily lives, and they would witness intruding questions every time from the police and other authorities engrossing their privacy. This will give impetus to the prevailing hardship. Restriction on having access to public services and constant fear of public humiliation are other related miseries—the behaviour of society act as a catalyst in deteriorating mental health problem among transgender. Human Rights Watch states that being transgender is not the reason for poor mental health, but the discrimination, stigma, and negative mindset are the root cause. It is more like they have to spend their life with that gender identity that they do not recognize. Hungary has been systematically taking steps to alienate their existence.
GOVERNMENT TARGETING TRANS-GENDERS – A STEP TOWARDS CULTURAL WAR
Mr. Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, and since then, the government is trying hard to eliminate the democratic framework. His party, without any accountability, made many amendments in the Hungarian constitution; it seems they are planning for a dictatorial regime. They made changes in election rules to favor their party, putting the constitution on the pedestal. And its extension is stretched towards a cultural war, where they are targeting public media outlets, school curriculum, religion, and the interpretation in history. In the year 2018, he signed a decree eliminating “gender studies” from the list of master’s sanctioned programs, removing funds for a critical source of education regarding transgender subjects. Before the enforcement of this law, legal recognition was allowed to some extent, which will be prohibited now. This step gave a traumatic shock to the transgender people; hence they are forced to leave the country as they are fed up with all the disgrace and intrusion in their privacy.
According to the right groups, the new bill pushes back Hungary to the dark ages stamping the rights of transgender people. Advocates are in fear that it will increase the discrimination against the transgender community as Hungarian law requires the first name to be chosen that fits their gender, from a list that is kept by the country’s Academy of Sciences, which is arranged according to the gender, so they would not be in a position to identify with their gender. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has used anti-LGBT elocution as a part of his political agenda and recognized culture war against those who do not fit into the traditional criteria. In addition to this, a significant concern would also be targeting those who have already changed their gender legally.
This new law is a blatant violation of human rights, as across the world, transgender is struggling for their identity and is emerging victorious as people are ready to accept them. The same does not apply in Hungary; its representatives are not prepared to shift their dogmatic mindset to the liberal one for an inclusive society. Human rights are equal for every individual, and the discrimination on the basis that an individual belongs to a particular community, cannot be an excuse to engross their legal rights.
Surveillance by the state, if it violates privacy, is utterly unacceptable. To live life with dignity is everyone’s minimal right; targeting one community and not allowing them to live their dignified life is a sham.
 Benjamin Novak, “Hungary Outlaws Changing Gender on Documents After Birth, N.Y TIMES, May 28, 2020.
(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)