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Hungary mulls bill to legally erase transgender people

Viktor Orbán
Viktor OrbánPhoto: Shutterstock

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government proposed a ban on transgender people correcting their legal gender last week.

The measure – part of a larger omnibus bill – requires that the civil registry note only a person’s “sex at birth,” which it says is “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.” If passed, all legal documents in the country would only list a person’s sex assigned at birth.

Related: Hungary pulls out of Eurovision, allegedly due to homosexuality and LGBTQ representation

Orbán has been the prime minister of Hungary since 2010, and he is well known for his legalistic approach to curtailing democracy. Last week, the Hungarian parliament granted Orbán the power to rule by decree as long as coronavirus is considered a threat to the nation.

The proposal that would take away transgender people’s ability to correct their legal gender in the country’s civil registry is part of a larger omnibus bill that has to pass Parliament because it’s unrelated to coronavirus.

European officials have called out Orbán’s proposal an “attack” on transgender people.

“This attack on the trans community is outrageous and deliberate,” said Member of European Parliament Marc Angel, who is in the Socialist Workers’ Party and is from Luxembourg. “This move does not only intentionally silence the trans community – it seeks to erase it and deny its existence.”

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović said last week that the proposal is “in contravention with human rights standards.”

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

While the bill is being denounced by Europe, it is popular in Hungary, where one survey found that only 34% of people support a transgender person’s right to correct their gender in the civil registry.

In 2018, Hungary created a process for transgender people to correct the gender in the civil registry that required a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. That decree required anyone who corrected their legal gender to get divorced due to the country’s ban on marriage equality.

Several months later, after trouble implementing the gender correction process consistently, the law was suspended.

Orbán’s government has a long history of attacking LGBTQ equality in a country where mainstream television stations still air programs discussing the “serious and important research” into conversion therapy.

In 2014, Cultural Commissioner Imre Kerényi said that theater and film are “in the hands of the a lobby of fa***ts.” In 2018, the State Opera cancelled 15 performances of Billy Elliot after an op-ed in a government newspaper said that the play would turn kids gay.

“The propagation of homosexuality cannot be a national goal when the population is getting older and smaller and our country is threatened by invasion,” the article said.

In a 2015 interview, Orbán said that he is grateful that “the Hungarian homosexual community” hasn’t shown “the provocative behavior against which numerous European nations are struggling.”

He suggested that things would get worse for LGBTQ people if “the community of homosexuals starts being more provocative.”

Which has made him a darling of American Christian conservatives. The group behind the World Congress of Families, a yearly anti-LGBTQ conference, praised Orbán as a “pro-family… hero.”

The Heritage Foundation praised Orbán as well, saying he will “replace the shipwreck of liberal democracy by building 21st Century Christian democracy.”

Donald Trump has welcomed Orbán to the White House and is reportedly on “friendly” terms with him.

 

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