Hungary

Unabated attacks on LGBTI rights amid the pandemic

Minutes before the new COVID-19 restrictions came into effect amid the second wave, the government proposed a draft amendment to the constitution. In particular, two changes will reinforce institutionalised homophobia and transphobia. A sentence will be added to Article L and will define that: “the mother is a woman; the father is a man”. The second change, Article XVI (1) will include the provision that: “Hungary protects children’s rights to their identity in line with their birth sex, and the right to education according to our country’s constitutional identity and system of values based on Christian culture”. In addition, draft amendments to the Civil Code and the Child Protection Act were also submitted. If the relevant amendments pass, single parents will be able to adopt only under special circumstances and their adoption must be approved by the minister of family. Added to this, the Justice Committee of the Hungarian Parliament presented legislation that would abolish the Equal Treatment Authority (ETA), a body which has been successful in addressing discrimination against the LGBTI community, with the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights absorbing its activities, in order to provide a more efficient institutional structure. Experts say that it is no coincidence that the proposed legislative changes came at the same time that physical, public gatherings and demonstrations became prohibited in Hungary.


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Unabated attacks on LGBTI rights amid the pandemic


Further erosion of media and academic freedom; attacks on LGBTI-friendly children’s book

The attacks on freedom of expression have not stopped with the demise of Index- the leading independent news site in Hungary. On 11th September 2020, Hungary’s Media Council decided not to automatically extend the licence of the radio station Klubrádió. Klubrádió, which is one of the few remaining critical outlets in Hungary, has, according to the government-appointed Media Council, repeatedly violated the country’s media law. For this reason, the Media Council said, the radio outlet would have to apply for a new licence. Independent media are not the only bodies subject to threats from Hungary’s illiberal forces. Academic freedom is also under threat as students from the University of Theatre and Film Arts have staged protests, since 31st August 2020, against the Orban government’s infiltration of their university. In an attack on LGBTI rights, during an online press conference, Dora Duro, a politician of the far-right party Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) attacked a new children’s book which retells fairy tales with LGBTI+ individuals as the main characters. Read more


Further erosion of media and academic freedom; attacks on LGBTI-friendly children’s book

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

On 17th June 2020 government announced an end to the “state of danger”, but immediately declared a “state of medical crisis”, which will continue to allow the government to issue a wide range of decrees and restrict certain rights. This declaration cannot be lifted by parliament and human rights organisations are concerned that this will only lead to further powers for the Orbán government. In a positive development, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a Hungarian law concerning foreign funding of non-governmental organisations “does not comply with the Union law”. The court found that the law imposed "discriminatory and unjustified restrictions" on those organisations affected. Freedom of expression is increasingly under threat, with the biggest and most-read independent news site, Index.hu, reporting that it is currently under threat from external pressures. Read more

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

Concerns over democratic decline, with transgender rights and freedom of speech under attack

In early May 2020, US-based rights watchdog Freedom House in their "Nations in Transit" report said that Hungary experienced "the most precipitous" democratic decline ever tracked by the organisation. The so-called Authorisation Act was adopted on 30th March 2020 and introduced excessively wide powers without a sunset clause. The act has further exacerbated the deterioration of the rule of law and the state of democracy in Hungary.
 In addition, the Hungarian parliament passed an amendment to the omnibus bill changing the Registry act to only recognise “sex at birth”, which was later signed into law by President Janos Ader. The new law makes the legal recognition of transgender and intersex persons impossible and will lead to further discrimination of these groups.
Attacks on freedom of expression continue as police detained two people for spreading pandemic-related fake news. While the prosecutors decided to drop their cases against the two individuals, it is likely that such developments will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Read more

Concerns over democratic decline, with transgender rights and freedom of speech under attack

‘Corona virus bill’ seeks to erode freedom of expression even further

Following the declaration of a state of emergency due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government has submitted the Protection against the Coronavirus bill to Parliament which seeks to prolong emergency measures for as long as the government deems necessary. In addition, journalists may face up to five years jail time for spreading 'fake news'. Media freedom organisatons and critics fear that this will further deteriorate freedom of expression and the rule of law in Hungary, which is already under threat. Read more

‘Corona virus bill’ seeks to erode freedom of expression even further

Hungary: European Courts of Justice take on restrictive laws

European Courts of Justice take on restrictive laws in relation to migration and NGOs, government threatens LGBTQIA+ groups and media freedoms. Read more

Hungary: European Courts of Justice take on restrictive laws

CSOs in Hungary win lawsuits against smear campaigns

In a positive development, in May 2019 the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) won a lawsuit against Figyelo, a weekly pro-government magazine, for publishing the “Soros-list” in April 2018 which depicted activists, human rights defenders and critical media workers as “Soros-mercenaries”. Read more

CSOs in Hungary win lawsuits against smear campaigns

Hungary continues its regressive course restricting civic space

The Parliament adopted new amendments to the laws on administrative courts despite concerns that these amendments still do not guarantee that the proposed administrative court system will be independent and impartial. Meanwhile, the authorities took further steps to restrict the freedom of peaceful assembly. Read more

Hungary continues its regressive course restricting civic space

New huge pro-government media conglomerate in Hungary threatens freedom of speech

In November 2018, 476 media outlets became part of the new Hungarian media holding organisation controlled by pro-government forces. The move was strongly condemned by international and local media rights organisations and has been seen as another attempt by the government to destroy media freedom. Read more

New huge pro-government media conglomerate in Hungary threatens freedom of speech

Police in Hungary are already using a restrictive new law to ban protests

On 1st October 2018, a new law on the administration of public assemblies came into force, and was quickly applied by Hungarian police. Read more

Police in Hungary are already using a restrictive new law to ban protests