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Hungary: European courts stand firm against authorities’ unlawful asylum policies and violations of transgender rights

Responding to the European Court of Human Rights’ finding today that Hungary violated transgender people’s right to respect for private life by not providing adequate procedures for legal gender recognition and the EU Court of Justice’s binding decision that Hungary violated EU law by demanding that people seeking international protection begin their asylum procedures outside of the country, Dávid Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary, said: 

“For years, the Hungarian authorities have targeted transgender people and those seeking safety as they sought to roll back human rights. The decisions today from European Court of Human Rights and the EU Court of Justice, which state unequivocally that the government has violated the rights of transgender people and those seeking safety, are a welcome development.

Dávid Vig, Director of Amnesty International Hungary

Today’s decision from the European Court of Human Rights sends a crucial message to both transgender people in Hungary and the government that the fight for an effective and accessible procedure for legal gender recognition is far from over. The government must urgently end its hateful campaign against LGBTI people — and guarantee equal rights for everyone in Hungary.”

“EU law provides for people’s right to seek asylum. It is as ridiculous as it is unworkable that the Hungarian authorities have asked people seeking safety to request permission from abroad before entering the country. By forcing asylum seekers arriving in Hungary to travel to its embassies in Serbia and Ukraine to request permission to enter, the country has violated EU asylum law, which states that asylum procedures must be ‘effective, easy and rapid’.”


In the decision concerning legal gender recognition in Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights examined the legal environment before May 2020, when the Hungarian parliamentary majority adopted a law that required individuals’ sex to be recorded at birth in the national registry of birth, marriages and deaths — and this could not be changed at a later date. The law restricts transgender people from registering their names and obtaining associated documents in accordance with their gender identity. 

Amnesty International gathered more than 100,000 signatures in 2020 to support transgender people in Hungary. The Court found that by not providing an adequate procedure for legal gender recognition, Hungary violated the right to private life, which led to long-term mental health consequences for applicants. The Court reiterated that Member States have an obligation to ensure effective and accessible procedures for transgender people to change their gender/ sex marker.

In April 2022, the Hungarian government organized a national referendum to support a law banning the “portrayal and promotion of homosexuality and sex change” in schools and in the media. In response, Amnesty International Hungary, Háttér Society, and 12 civil society organizations mobilized more than 1,7 million people and rendered the referendum invalid.

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