The European Court of Human Rights has ended a five-year-long debate after stating that Hungary should allow both Hungarian and non-Hungarian citizens the rights to legally approve their gender and the name-changing procedure involved. The decision came two days after the Hungarian Government denied the rights of transgender people in the country.
Háttér Társaság writes that the history of the debate started five years ago when a transgender man from Israel arrived in Hungary in the summer season and asked for refuge. Because he was transgender in Israel, the man was threatened with persecution from local authorities, and he was registered as a refugee. However, his official papers still had the data of a female, and the man decided to ask for a legal name and gender change in his papers. As Hungary did not have any kind of procedures back then, his request was sent back, and the man was asked to return to Israel to change his papers under the threat of getting caught by authorities because of his sexual orientation.
The man asked for the help of Háttér Társaság (Háttér Society), founded in 1995, which is the largest and oldest currently operating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) organisation in Hungary.
The Constitutional Court ruled in 2018 that there was an unconstitutional omission because the law did not provide for legal gender recognition and related name change for trans people legally residing in Hungary permanently. The Constitutional Court gave a deadline of December 31, 2018, for the legislator to adopt new legislation, but the government did not make the necessary steps.
With the help of the Strasburg Court, the man was able to advance successfully with his case. The court announced that Hungary should allow Hungarian citizens and non-Hungarian citizens the rights to gender and name change. Apart from officially stating the order, the court and the ECHR fined the Hungarian state with EUR 8,000.
Hátter Társaság reported that Hungarian authorities contributed to the case with cynism as they were aware of the fact that the man was in danger in his home country but asked him to go back to change his papers in Israel anyway.
ILGA-Europe has produced its latest “Rainbow Map” on which they rank European countries by an overview of the legal situation and acceptance of LGBT people. This is called the Rainbow Index. According to ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based non-governmental organisation, the least accepting country in Europe is now Poland, and Hungary could do better as well.