Back to “dark ages” as Hungary reverses transgender rights

Despite an international outcry, lawmakers in Hungary have overwhelmingly passed a bill that blocks transgender and intersex people from amending their legal gender identity.

The bill includes an article that changes the term “gender” in the civil registry to “sex at birth,” and states that this cannot be changed.

On Tuesday, parliament voted 133 in favour and 57 opposed to approve the bill which restricts trans and intersex people from bringing their documents, such as ID cards, driving licenses and passports, into alignment with their gender identity.

“This decision pushes Hungary back towards the dark ages and tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people,” said Amnesty International’s Researcher, Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy. “It will not only expose them to further discrimination but will also deepen an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.”

Lawmakers ignored a massive social media campaign against the measure as well as statements from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the United Nations Special Procedures, and many more.

“We are dismayed by this decision to roll back established rights,” commented Masen Davis, Interim Executive Director of Transgender Europe. “Trans and intersex Hungarians, as all people in Hungary, should have their human rights equally protected and without discrimination.”

Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director for ILGA-Europe, noted that “Legal gender recognition is the bedrock of access to equality and non-discrimination for trans and intersex people. Without it, these populations are subject to immense stigma, discrimination, harassment, and violence every time they use their identity documents – be it at the bank, when going to the doctor, when applying for a job, or even when applying for a cell phone contract.”

The situation was already bleak for trans and intersex Hungarians. According to the Second LGBTI Survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency, published last week, 76% of trans Hungarians believe that the Hungarian government “definitely does not effectively combat prejudice and intolerance against LGBTI people,” compared to an EU-28 average of only 38%.

Additionally, 84% of trans respondents in Hungary reported that the main reason for increasing prejudice, intolerance, or violence in the country was “Negative stance and discourse by politicians and/or political parties.”

Hungarian trans rights group, The Háttér Society, called on Hungary’s president, Jándor Áder, to not sign the bill into law, but to send it for review to the Constitutional Court.

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