Update 28 May 2020 – Since this piece was originally written, sadly, Section 33 has passed into Hungarian Law. As it contravenes fundamental human rights, Amnesty International is calling on the Hungarian Human Commissioner for Fundamental Rights to stop this by rejecting the validity of this legislation. Join us in taking action
According to international and regional human rights standards, transgender people should be able to obtain legal gender recognition through quick, accessible and transparent procedures and in accordance with their own perceptions of gender identity. States must ensure that transgender people can obtain documents reflecting their gender identity without being required to satisfy criteria that in themselves violate their human rights.
Instead of complying with their human rights obligations, the Hungarian government is moving in the opposite direction, as they put forward a new bill including an article – Section 33 – which would ban legal gender recognition in Hungary. This is happening while all efforts should focus on protecting and guaranteeing the right to health for everyone without discrimination and taking urgent measures necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does #Drop33 mean?
It’s the tag used on Twitter to call for Section 33 of this new bill to be dropped. The Hungarian Parliament is scheduled to vote on this bill in the week of 18 May. The proposed law would ban transgender people from having their gender identity recognised before the law. Amnesty is joining international and national LGBTI organisations and activists in calling for this ban to be dropped.
All I want is to enjoy my life. Going to work, to the gym and meeting my friends. I do not want to feel anxious for the rest of my life because some MPs think that they can play with people's life as if they were God.Noé, Trans Rights Activist from Hungary
Why is it a problem?
The proposed provisions of the bill contradict Hungary’s international and domestic human rights obligations in relation to several rights.
Section 33 would require the recording of individuals’ sex by birth in the national registry of birth, marriages and deaths, which could not later be changed. This means that individuals’ identification documents would contain the same, unchangeable information, hampering transgender and intersex people in registering their names and obtaining associated documents in accordance to their gender identity. These provisions severely violate the right of transgender and intersex people to dignity, their right to private and family life, and their right to legal recognition of their gender based on self-determination.
It is unclear how those people who are currently medically transitioning and whose recognition case is still pending would be impacted by the proposed changes. The proposed changes are likely to expose transgender and intersex people to further discrimination in all spheres of life.
What’s the background?
In Hungary, transgender and intersex people are often subject to discrimination, in particular in employment, education, accessing goods and services, and housing. The proposed provisions represent the latest attempt to curtail transgender and intersex people’s rights. If Parliament passes the proposed bill it will lead to further discrimination, while attacks and hate crimes against transgender and intersex people might further intensify.
The Hungarian Parliament has already had a first debate, following debates in two committees and is going to go back to a final debate and vote to Parliament in the week of 18 May 2020. As the governing Hungarian Fidesz party – which is proposing the bill – has a 2/3 majority in Parliament, it is highly likely that the bill will be passed.
See Amnesty International’s public statement for more details.
What can people do to challenge this?
We need to tell the Hungarian government to drop Section 33. Around the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May we are asking everyone to join the social media campaign that ILGA Europe, Transgender Europe (TGEU) and OII-International, have launched to #Drop33.
Join the #Drop33 campaign!
Take a video of yourself, holding an A4 sheet with the number 33 written on it, then crumpling up the sheet and throwing it away. Post the video on your social media channels, using the following message:
#Hungary, drop Section 33 and uphold the rights of transgender and intersex people to legal recognition in accordance with their gender . Show your solidarity with transgender and intersex people!
Use the hashtags #Drop33, #TransRightsAreHumanRights, #LGR, #transrights and the handles @ILGAEurope, @amnesty and @JuditVarga_EU