Using emergency powers the Hungarian parliament has passed a law that recognizes only "sex assigned at birth" in official documents. Previously, Hungarians had been legally free to change their gender with the government.
“Legal gender recognition procedures are the baseline for protection of transgender persons,” reads an open letter to the Hungarian Prime Minister and Minister of Justice from 63 European politicians. “They are equally important for intersex persons who are assigned a different sex at birth than the one with which they identify.”
In the Hungarian language, the word “nem” can mean both “sex” and “gender.” Article 33 of the new law removes “nem” from government documents and registries, and instead replaces it with an expression that instead means “sex at birth.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been ruling by decree under emergency powers granted to him by the country’s legislature in response to the global pandemic. Article 33 is highly unpopular in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, and there are fears Orban is using the crisis and emergency powers to pass the omnibus bill and article without public comment or consideration. The bill passed the nation's parliament with a vote of 133 for, 57 opposed, and 4 in absentia according to ILGA Europe.
Recent opinion polling has shown the Hungarian people are at odds with Orban over the issue of protecting the rights of transgender and intersex people. Only 17% of those polled in a Median representative survey conducted last September supported Article 33, while 7 out of 10 Hungarians believe trans people should be legally recognized.
"As is well-documented, access to legal gender recognition for trans and intersex people is intertwined with the protection of many of their human rights," Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director for ILGA Europe, told Forbes. "This means in practice that trans and intersex people will be forced to live with documents that do not align with their gender identity and expression throughout their lifetime
The law also raises questions about the climate of safety in Hungary for transgender and intersex people in the country. Masen Davis, interim executive director at Transgender Europe (TGEU), explains these concerns to Forbes.
"This dangerous bill will subject trans people in Hungary to increased scrutiny, discrimination, and violence."