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Discriminatory Bill Harms Trans Women in Hungary

Parliament Should Reject Abusive Bill, Uphold Equal Rights

Pride parade in Budapest, Hungary, July 15, 2023. © 2023 Marton Monus/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

In another blow to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Hungary, on July 13, the Hungarian government proposed a bill that excludes transgender women from a women-only pension scheme. The bill is expected to go to parliament in September.

The proposed bill comes on the heels of a court ruling on behalf of a transgender woman, obliging the local authority to recognize the plaintiff as a woman, making her eligible for the women-only pension benefit. The benefit is available to women who have worked 40 years but not yet reached retirement age.  

The verdict caused a meltdown in Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz. The deputy Fidesz faction leader publicly criticized the judge while pro-government media regurgitated trans- and homophobic messaging. As it has done with previous unfavorable rulings, the government is seeking to amend legislation to sidestep the courts. The proposed bill blatantly discriminates against trans women who have legally changed their gender marker and is another stark example of how the government abuses its power by eroding the rule of law. The bill is also on a collision course with case law by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights, as it flouts common European values. It is another case for why EU member states should sanction Hungary under article 7 of the Treaty on European Union for persistent disregard for the norms and principles upon which the EU is founded.  

The anti-trans bill follows a streak of recent anti-LGBT incidents in Hungary. On the same day the government proposed the bill, the Consumer Protection Authority fined Lira, one of the country’s largest bookstores, 12 million Forints (roughly US$36,000) for failing to wrap in plastic foil the British webcomic “Heartstopper” that includes LGBT content. The government body said Lira had breached the 2021 anti-LGBT law prohibiting display of LGBT content to children – a law that the European Commission referred to the CJEU in July 2022 because it violates the fundamental rights of LGBT people.

Amid this anti-LGBT onslaught during Pride month, some 35,000 people took part in the Budapest Pride march on July 15 to defend their rights.

Instead of discriminating and fueling intolerance, parliament should redouble efforts to protect the basic human rights of everyone in Hungary, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. If they instead adopt this bill, the European Commission should immediately launch infringement proceedings.

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