Hungary’s parliament adopted a political declaration on Tuesday, sponsored by the Christian Democrats, on rejecting the Istanbul Convention.
Hungary signed the so-called Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) in 2014, but the legal instrument has not become part of the national law by parliamentary authorization
The co-ruling party said parliament should refuse to ratify the convention, citing definitions of gender it contains.
The declaration was adopted with 115 votes in favour, 35 against and three abstentions.
It calls on the government not to go any further in acceding to the convention and to lobby the European Union to do the same.
The declaration said the Council of Europe document takes an unacceptable approach to defining gender, and parliament should not incorporate this approach into national law.
Also the convention’s gender-based rules on asylum are not consistent with Hungary’s legal environment, which seeks to take effective action against illegal migration, the declaration said.
Meanwhile, the valuable parts of the convention when it comes to protecting children and taking action to counter violence against women are properly embedded in Hungary’s legal system, the declaration states.
After the vote, a group of women MPs protested against the rejection of the Convention at a joint press conference.
Tímea Szabó, group leader of Párbeszéd, accused the prime minister, the house speaker and governing Fidesz-KDNP of waging a war against women, adding that effective protections for women and children against violence would no longer be possible.
Andrea Varga-Damm, of the conservative Jobbik party, said
the government had a problem with women MPs sitting in parliament because “they show them a mirror every day”.
Zita Gurmai, deputy group leader of the Socialists, accused the government of lying when claiming that the Hungarian state would protect every victim of domestic violence. She called for a special support fund for victims to be established and for proper police training, as well as more shelter homes.
Ágnes Vadai, of the Democratic Coalition, called on her fellow MPs to resubmit to parliament their proposal on ratifying the convention.
Following the adoption of a declaration today by Hungary’s parliament not to ratify the Istanbul convention against violence against women, David Vig, Amnesty International’s Hungary Director, said:
“This decision is extremely dangerous coming at a time when reported domestic violence incidents in Hungary have doubled since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. This not only puts women and girls at risk but sends a damaging message to perpetrators that their acts will not be prosecuted.”
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had failed to adequately prevent and combat violence against women, with a shameful record of investigations and prosecutions.”
“Spurious claims by the government that the Convention ‘supports illegal migration’ and ‘prescribes dangerous gender ideologies’ is an attempt to shift attention away from its own shortcomings from the tragic reality for women and girls living with abuse.”
“Hungary must revoke this declaration and ratify the Istanbul Convention as a matter of urgency and take all necessary steps to sufficiently protect women and girls from violence and domestic abuse, particularly in the current fight against the pandemic.”