On 31 March, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén submitted an omnibus bill that would take away trans people’s rights to change their legal name or gender. The move comes a mere two weeks after the European Court of Human Rights communicated a joint case of 23 trans applicants to Hungary who have been unable to change their name and gender marker since 2018. Unless the parties come to an agreement by 4 June, the Strasbourg Court will rule on the merits of the case. The applicants are provided legal representation by Transvanilla Transgender Association.

The bills sets out that “sex” on national ID cards would be replaced by “sex at birth”, and firmly states that “sex at birth” may not be changed:

The sex entered into the civil registry is based on facts determined by doctors, declared by the registry. The registry certifies the facts and rights it includes until proven otherwise, therefore it does not create rights. However, the sex declared by the registry could create rights or obligations, and therefore it is necessary to define the term of birth sex. Given that completely changing one's biological sex is impossible, it is necessary to lay it down in law that it cannot be changed in the civil registry either." (Reasoning of the proposed provision - translation by Index)

Transvanilla firmly condemns the bill, which denies trans people the right to gender recognition, violating their right to self-determination and countering national and international human rights standards. Our association calls on the government to reconsider the proposal, as it has already done so in the matter of mayoral powers also covered in the scope of the bill.

As we have previously reported, Hungary is one of the few EU Member States, where no proper legal measures are in place to regulate legal gender recognition. Although trans people have been able to change their gender marker and name since 2003, there is no comprehensive legislation that sets out the procedure.

“Transvanilla Transgender Association has repeatedly affirmed that legal gender recognition ensures a person’s right to self-determination, and that procedures must be existent, quick, transparent, and acsessible”. - Barnabás Hidasi, president of Transvanilla

In October 2018, the Hungarian Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights published reiterated his position that the lack of a quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition procedure undermines trans people’s right to human dignity and self-determination. The Constitutional Court echoed this opinion, calling on the government to observe international human rights standards and put legal measures in place. Given the government’s failure to comply, Transvanilla turned to the European Court of Human Rights in April 2019.

Transvanilla Transgender Association will continue to keep up the fight for our community. We understand all the disillusionment, disappointment and worry, caused by the current situation and we will do our very best to help. With the help of our national and international contacts and partners, we will map what further international or national human rights mechanisms and tools we could use to remedy the situation.

Transvanilla Transgender Association, 01. April 2020

Petition: Help protecting Hungarian trans people