When a country enacts an anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, they’re actively taking away our human rights as queer people to exist, express ourselves and be treated the same as non-LGBTQIA+ people. For trans people, taking away their right to have their chosen gender be legally recognised can have significantly negative impact on their experience with gender, their mental health and wellbeing. It can undo years of therapy and mental transition experiences, and turn their environment into an unsafe space.
So, we’re a little worried that, if Hungarian Dictator and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has his way, Hungary will end the legal recognition of trans people and their identity.
FYI, this story is marked with a content warning for deadnaming and some transphobic language.
Hungary wants to criminalise transgendered identities
According to The Guardian, in March, conservative nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán passed a bill allowing him to rule by decree during the Covid-19 pandemic (already quite yikes, if you ask me). Since then, instead of focusing on relief and supporting Hungarian citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, he’s pushing for a new bill that aims to end the legal recognition of transgendered people.
Side note: According to LGBTQNation, while we’re all distracted with U.S. President Donald Trump proposing Americans inject themselves with disinfectant and the internet uncovers the mystery of Kim Jong-un’s disappearance, the Trump administration has quietly forwarded a rule to allow doctors to refuse trans patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center for American Progress (CAP) found at least 29 percent of transgendered people were told by a healthcare worker that they would refuse to see them because of their gender identity, as confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., as of writing, nearly exceeds one million.
Oh, and according to GayStarNews, Britain’s new Equality Minister Liz Truss just announced a new government policy to ban gender transition procedures for people under 18 years old (extremely big yikes).
The new legislation sees to define gender as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes,” effectively criminalising trans identity. If this legislation goes ahead, it would be near impossible for a trans, non-binary, questioning or non-gendered person to legally change their gender from what they were assigned at birth.
Currently, if someone were to legally change their name in Hungary, they would have to choose from a list of legally allowed names approved by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. All of these names are gendered.
As Ivett Ördög, a transwoman living in Budapest, told The Guardian, “in Hungary, you need to show your ID to rent a bike, buy a bus pass or to pick up a package at a post office. It basically means coming out as trans to complete strangers, all the time. The good version is that they are nice about it, but there are situations where people can turn quite hostile.”
Those instances would be exacerbated from this kind of legislation. For a local example, see no further than the hateful anti-LGBTQIA+ speech that emerged during the plebiscite for same-sex marriage under the guise of discourse and civil debate. Stating the obvious here but situations like which Ördög describes would put queer people in extreme harm and increase the risk and severity of one’s anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health conditions.
Even more alarming is, with this happening when there’s an international travel ban worldwide because we’re of the Covid-19 pandemic, trans people in Hungary can’t freely flee their home country and take up minority refuge. While some may be able to legally change their name and gender internationally, their Hungarian passports still deadname them. Anytime they leave the country, they’re reminded of the gender they were assigned at birth and risk feeling unsafe and invalidated of their identity and experience.
And, I don’t have to tell you that that’s extremely not okay.
How likely is it to go ahead?
According to Tamás Dombos, a member of the Háttér Society, a Hungarian LGBTQIA+ human rights organisation, while it’s unlikely that the government will go after trans people who have already legally changed their name, they “just don’t know.”
Until 2016, the procedure to legally change one’s gender and name was quite simple, but officials have been very slow in the last three years, effectively leaving a lot of trans people on perpetual waiting lists.
“My request has been sitting there for a year, and this new law will mean it will be fully rejected,” adds Ördög.
During the Hungarian parliament’s judiciary committee, independent MP Bernadett Szél described the law as “evil” and a “step back in time.” But, when she tried to read out a letter from trans people on just how harmful this legislation would be for them, she was “shut down” by the committee’s chair, and told that the letter was “not relevant.”
All hope lies on the European Union to step in and stop the anti-trans legislation from passing
As LGBTQIA+ human rights activists and lawyers have pointed out, this new bill is, unsurprisingly, an infringement of a human right. According to an academic article by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) ensures the right to respect for privacy, and protects the right to development and personal identity as well as the physical and psychological integrity of the person, including gender expression.
So, now, as Dombos and other activists conclude, it’s up to the European Union who are in charge of the ECHR to step in and stop the legislation.
As some like Twitter user GillyBerlin believe, “the EU needs to look into kicking countries out of the Union when they stop honouring European values. Hungary should be at the top of the list atm.”
“Trans rights are human rights,” adds Welsh equality group Diverse Cymru. “This is a stark reminder that we must be on our guard – equality is for all, not just for those that ruling parties agree with.”