Hungary Must Not Use Pandemic to Further Repress LGBTI+ Rights

Hungary’s government’s decision to use lockdown measures to further humiliate and curtail the LGBTI+ community is a grave threat to the protection of human rights and the rule of law.

On Tuesday evening, the country braced for a second lockdown to combat Covid-19, following a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.  However, while citizens waited to hear which restrictive measures would be introduced under the ‘State of Danger’ framework, the government instead proposed three bills which have nothing to do with the pandemic.

Rather, they include constitutional amendments which are deeply discriminatory to the LGBTI+ community containing rules such as “the mother is female, the father is male” and “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with, and ensures their upbringing based on our national self-identification and Christian culture.” The implication of this proposal, amongst others, is that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children.

A separate bill undermines election laws and prevents opposition parties from being able to coordinate while running for parliamentary elections. Our partner, the Hunagarian Helsinki Committee, produced a flash report which details the unlawful moves taken by the government this week, and can be read here.

Civil Rights Defenders Director for Europe, Goran Miletic, says “This trend of governments in Hungary, but also in Poland, to use the cover of the pandemic to introduce laws which fuel their right-wing agenda and further restrict the rights of vulnerable communities, is dangerous and demands immediate reaction from the EU.”

This is by no means the first time Victor Orban’s government has used emergency powers to repress human rights. During the first lockdown in March this year, within days of declaring a State of Emergency, the government proposed a bill which punishes anyone sharing “false” or “distorted” facts with up to five years imprisonment, and another which outlaws legal gender recognition; a serious and permanent attack on the rights of Trans people.

We call upon Hungary’s government to retract these divisive bills and return on a course that respects human rights and the rule of law. Protecting the rights of minorities is part of Hungary’s international obligations and crucial for any democratic society.

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