Metro Weekly

Hungary proposes revoking legal recognition of transgender people

The law "seeks to erase" trans people, a European lawmaker said

Viktor Orban, hungary, trans, transgender

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban — Photo: Ron Przysucha / U.S. Department of State

Hungary is considering legislation that would revoke the legal recognition of transgender people.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament that would require gender to be recorded as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes,” the Guardian reports.

A person’s sex at birth would be recorded in the country’s civil registry under the proposed law, requiring it to be shown on birth, marriage, and death certificates.

It would effectively prevent a transgender or non-binary person from changing their legal gender, reversing changes implemented in 2018 which allowed Hungarians to change their legal gender.

Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, urged Hungary’s parliament not to adopt the changes, saying the law contravened precedents established by the European Court of Human Rights.

“Transgender persons have the right to legal recognition of their gender based on self-determination,” Mijatović said in a statement. “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.”

European Parliament lawmaker Marc Angel, co-president of the elected body’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, called the proposed legislation an “attack on the trans community” in a statement and said it was “outrageous and deliberate.”

“This move does not only intentionally silence the trans community — it seeks to erase it and deny its existence,” Angel added.

Orbán has been in power since 2010, and has overseen the Central European nation’s shift from one that favors European integration and centrist policies to a more nationalist and right-wing state.

The country pulled out of the European Song Contest, an international singing competition, because of its LGBTQ-friendly nature and encouragement of LGBTQ representation.

Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party has made its stance against homosexuality and embrace of “traditional values” well known. Orbán has even initiated a “family first” policy to incentivize marriage and childbearing in an effort to boost birth rates as the country’s population continues to decline.

The anti-trans bill was introduced amid ongoing criticism over new legislation, passed last week, which suspended parliament and granted Orbán the power to rule indefinitely by decree amid the coronavirus pandemic — a change apparently to help the country deal with the pandemic, but which Amnesty International said offers Orbán “carte blanche to restrict human rights.”

In an added twist of the knife by Orbán’s government, the legislation revoking legal gender recognition was introduced on International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual celebration of transgender people and their contributions to society.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Tamás Dombos, a board member of the Hungarian LGBT Alliance, said it was “appalling that the government plans to ban legal gender recognition in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis.”

“Such a measure would force trans people to live with documents that do not match their true identity and their appearance,” Dombos said. “That exposes them to potential discrimination in employment, housing, access to goods and services, and official procedures.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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