Last Updated on April 6, 2020
An amendment proposed by the Hungarian government would effectively make it “impossible for transgender people to legally change their gender” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Guardian reported that the amendment was introduced attached to a “controversial set of measures” aimed at targeting the coronavirus crisis, suggesting gender should be defined as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.”
The amendment would recognize “sex at birth,” making it impossible to change ones gender throughout the course of their life.
On the proposed draft law, Human Rights Watch wrote:
The proposed amendment to the Registry Act would include a clarification regarding the word “nem,” which in Hungarian can mean both “sex” and “gender,” to specifically refer to the sex at birth (“szuletesi nem”) as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.” According to the draft bill, the birth sex, once recorded, cannot be amended.
This attack on a vulnerable minority group comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when, instead of focusing on ways to protect public health from the virus, the government used the crisis as a pretext to grab unlimited and indefinite power by proclaiming a state of emergency, enabling it to rule by decree.
The amendment also seeks to fight the coronavirus pandemic, by tackling disinformation which may hamper the government’s response–which has drawn international criticism.
Hungary has a history of being unwelcoming to gender study, banning it in late 2018, calling it an “ideology.” Trans people also reportedly had difficulties changing their documents from the same year onward.
Human Rights Watch continued:
This show of contempt for the rights of the transgender community flies in the face of the European Convention on Human Rights case-law. In a 2002 case involving a trans person in the United Kingdom, the court held that refusal to change identification documents and legal identities could amount to discrimination and violate the right to respect for private lives. In another case in 2003, the court found that Germany had failed to respect an applicant’s “freedom to define herself as a female person, one of the most basic essentials of self-determination.”
When governments force trans people to carry documents that don’t match their identity and appearance, every situation when documents are requested or appearance is scrutinized becomes fraught with potential for violence and humiliation.
National File previously reported that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, under direction from the country’s parliament, has assumed total control of the government due to the pandemic, giving him the ability to rule by decree.