Annual Review 2011
Access to goods and services
In autumn, the Equal Treatment Authority (ETA) heard its first case involving cross-dressers. The case concerned a group that wanted to do a photo shoot at a hotel, but was refused permission to do so. They took the case to the ETA. It was settled, the hotel apologised, and the group was offered the opportunity to do the photo shoot at a later date.
Bias motivated speech
- The Organised Crime Unit of the Budapest Police started, but later discontinued, the investigation of possible charges of incitement to hatred and violence against a member of the LGBT community, to be brought against protesters who planned to disrupt the Pride march. The authorities argued that calling for the extermination of gays via signs containing drawings and symbols does not incite to active hatred, is not a clear violation of societal norms, and is thus not punishable under existing law.
- István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest, stated that he could not support the EuroGames 2012 as the event is alien to his way of thinking and he distanced himself from the “gay lifestyle.” The Youth Group of the Christian Democrats (who are in government), and Jobbik Party (who are in opposition), both issued press releases calling for State-owned venues to cancel contracts with the organisers.
Bias motivated violence
- Hungary strengthened its hate crime legislation with an amendment that makes intimidating behaviour, and not only violence, directed at certain groups a hate crime. Though the amendment is written in general language and prohibits the intimidation of “ethnic, racial, religious groups or other groups of the society”, human rights defenders for rights of LGBT people are hopeful that the law could also be used to prosecute hate crimes against LGBT individuals. Existing hate crime legislation was interpreted to implicitly cover bias motivated violence against LGBT people.
- Háttér Support Society for LGBT People created an online system for reporting discrimination, harassment, or violence based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Háttér reported that although discrimination against LGBT people is very common, it is also significantly under-reported. The organisation hoped that the online tool, where individuals fi ll out a simple form and have the opportunity to request legal advice, will increase the documentation of these incidents.
In March, the Metropolitan Court of Budapest upheld a judgement by the ETA against an employer who sexually harassed a TV reporter based on his perceived sexual orientation. A fine of approximately €3500 was imposed for harassment, in the form of homophobic abuse and the removal of the reporter’s TV presence for his supposedly being “too eff eminate.”
The Hungarian Offi ce of Health Authorisation and Administrative Procedures found that forcing a trans woman to reveal her trans identity through her pharmacy license was a violation of human dignity. The case arose because the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of State refused to issue a new license with just the woman’s new name, insisting that her birth name be included on the license thereby forcing her to reveal her trans identity every time she produced it. The Office of Health Authorisation and Administrative Procedures ordered the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of State to issue a license without reference to the woman’s birth name and gender.
Equality and non-discrimination
- In 2011, Hungary was reviewed during the UN Universal Periodic Review process. It accepted recommendations to take awareness raising measures, including training for the police and the judiciary; to strengthen hate crime legislation including providing victim assistance; and to explicitly prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The representative of Hungary during the UPR process stated that whilst marriage was an institution between a man and a woman, the rights of same-sex couples in a registered partnership were protected to the same extent as those of heterosexual couples.
- Hungary’s new Constitution was signed by the President, and enters into force on 1 January 2012. It has made certain groups vulnerable and does not protect all fundamental human rights; it was criticised by a variety of actors both inside and outside of Hungary. Under the new Constitution, there is no explicit prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ruling party was criticised for using its large majority to push through controversial provisions without cross-party support.
The new Constitution introduces a narrow definition of marriage as a union between a woman and a man. Following this Constitutional change, the Hungarian Parliament passed legislation on family protection that only considers households based on marriage or filiation as family. Hungarian LGBT NGOs and opposition parties strongly criticised the discriminatory approach of the bill that not only excludes same-sex registered partners, but also those heterosexual couples who do not wish to get married. The legislation was amended by the Parliament to prescribe that the same notion of family should be used across the Hungarian legal system, and also to limit inheritance rights to blood relatives and spouses (excluding registered partners).
Freedom of assembly
The Metropolitan Court of Budapest overturned the decision of the Budapest Police to deny an alteration to the Budapest Pride Parade route that would take marchers in front of the Parliament building. The police had originally issued a permit for the Parade in September 2010, but human rights defenders requested the route change in early 2011 because of their desire to make the Parade more political and visible in 2011. Before the ruling of the Metropolitan Court, Members of the European Parliament had expressed concern that Hungary may not be respecting LGBT peoples’ fundamental right to organise in public.
Representatives from approximately 20 foreign embassies in Budapest issued a joint statement expressing support for the 2011 Budapest Pride Festival and the LGBT community. The statement refl ected on the violence that had plagued Pride celebrations in the past, and asserted that governments are responsible for protecting their citizens from such violence. Approximately 1500 people attended the march, which was protested against by homophobic nationalists. Police protected the marchers from violence, though they were subject to hate speech during the parade. Several participants were harassed and assaulted when leaving the march. Two Austrian participants were arrested following a report of their alleged assault against a group of Hungarians neo-Nazis.
Freedom of association
In March, following a two year long struggle, the Hungarian LGBT Alliance (an umbrella organisation bringing together LGBT NGOs working in Hungary) was registered by the Court.